By Terry Wilson

Noosa v Palm Beach-Currumbin
At Weyba Road, 2pm Saturday

WHAT a way to open the season – a clash between perennial competition heavyweights Noosa and Palm Beach-Currumbin on the northernmost tip of the Sunshine Coast.
It is a confrontation between past Pineapple Hotel Cup champions (PBC, 2007-2009) and reigning champions (Noosa, who lost the 2009 decider to Saturday’s rivals.
And, as has been the case for so long, both Noosa and PBC have undergone significant changes in playing personnel over the off-season, although coaches Wayne Fletcher (Noosa) and Craig O’Brien (PBC) are constant denominators.
Noosa have three gaping holes to fill. They have lost star forward Jeff Brain
and ruckman Greg Page to NEAFL club Aspley and midfield workhorse Jay Reynolds has moved interstate.
“That’s life in footy,” said Fletcher of Noosa’s situation.
“We’re more than happy with the group we’ve got and we certainly intend to  aim for further improvement.’
The Tigers have only 12 of last September’s winning grand final going around against the Lions.
New faces include Dane Frew (South Bendigo) and Danny Brewster (Latrobe Valley) and Fletcher has high hopes for John Reichman, last season’s reserves best and fairest, forced to settle in the seconds after recovering from knee surgery.
“He has had a sensational pre-season,” said Fletcher.
Fletcher is aware of a busy recruiting campaign at Palm Beach, who have lost star rover Mikal Bloom and have midfielder Darryl Dyson out suspended.
Big ruckman David Round, twice a QAFL Grogan Medallist, is lining up despite a wonky knee, speed machine Arnold Knight is back and the club has signed yet another former Broadbeach player, key-position utility Ben Walterrs.
The Lions have also included newcomers Jordan Bates and Brad and Ryan Hard (Mildura), Brad Hewat from Albion in the Footscray League .
“From all reports they have some strongly-built midfielders,” said Fletcher of off-season goings-on at PBC.
Coach O’Brien said he is wary of the ‘uknown factor’ with so many new faces.
“We played Coolangatta last week and the signs were good,” said O’Brien. “And they look good on the track, but Noosa at Noosa is a tough gig.”

Wilston-Grange v Sandgate
At Hickey Park, 7.30pm Saturday
IT’S a case of the master up against the apprentice when Wilston-Grange tackle Sandgate in their north Brisbane derby at Hickey Park on Saturday night.
New Grange boss David Martin used to coach Sandgate playing-coach Ben Long in their days back at the Northern Eagles.
In fact, Long says, it was Martin who was inadvertently responsible for ending his days in State League first grade.
“He was actually the last coach to drop me to play twos footy. I didn’t play seniors again after that,” recalled Long.
Sandgate, last season’s runners-up under Long, have had a relatively settled off-season, losing only Rob Lucas (retired) and Steve Webster (retired).
Of the 2010 grand final 22, Tom Overington (recovering from ankle injury), Rowan Moody (wedding) and Trent Morrissey (reserves) are not playing against the Grange.
Recruits include David Scott, an on-baller who played with Sandgate a few years ago and is coming over from University of Queensland; defender Michael McCoy (ex-Mt Gravatt and Aspley); Will Bradley, who played seniors with the Hawks as a 1`6-year-old a few seasons back; and wily veteran Damien Garton, who is back from retirement.
Knowing well the demands of Martin for his players to go the football, Long expects a tough first-up encounter with Sandgate’s neighbours.
“One thing you can depend on with sides Marto coaches is that they’ll be hard at the footy,” said Long.
Martin has not only Long as a past player he coaches at Northern Eagles.
Throw in Dan Dickfos, Josh Walker, Brendan Forbes, Garton and Matt Nuss and Martin has plenty of inside knowledge on his opponents.
As well, Martin should benefit from an influx of handy recruits, led by former Morningside full-back Matt Pardew, former Morningside fringe pair David Tough and Chris Jahnke , and former Brisbane rookie Elliott Hohenhaus (Maroochydore).
“We have to have about 10 faces new to the club, but I’m hoping we’ll improve (on the scoreboard),” said Martin.
“As a group they seem to be working hard and pretty good together. They seem to be prepared to listen and carry things about.
“They are enthusiastic and keen.”

Mayne v Burleigh
At Everton Park, 2pm Saturday
THE man with the toughest job in the Pineapple Hotel Cup, new Mayne player-coach Luke Faulkner, has hit back at the prophets of doom forecasting the demise of the Tigers.
Certainly, off-season dealings have shredded Mayne’s playing roster to the extent where many critics forecast the Tiges will struggle to win a game.
This view comes on the back of the departures of Caleb Brown and Luke Ferguson to Morningside and Andrew McMahon, Tom Falconer and Jeff Teale to Aspley.
That is a fair drain of talent, it has to be said, but Faulkner is upbeat over his situation.
“I think we’ll surprise a few, don’t worry about that,” predicted Faulkner.
“A lot of people are writing us off but they don’t know what the real situation is here.”
Faulkner prefers to look at the loss of Brown and co as ‘I put it tas if we’ve lost a couple of key players’.
The Tigers have picked up Leigh Brumby, a midfielder from Hillwood, Ryan Louwen-Skovdam, a backman from Darwin, Sam Patterson (Noosa), and Blake Faulkner, the younger brother of new captain-coach Luke.
Over in the camp of Saturday’s rivals Burleigh – beaten preliminary finalists last season – things are going along nicely for coach Zane Doubleday.
The Bombers have lost some good players in Mark Brown (overseas), Tom Sutherland will have a late start to the season, Tim McKay is injured and Stu  Sutherland has returned to Victoria.
And midfielder Simon Fletcher will continue to be an irregular performer because of his Gold Coast Suns commitments.
“But we’ve done okay in recruiting,” said Doubleday.
Last year’s football manager Matt Jamieson will make a comeback after breaking his leg two years ago, Aaron Pianta has apparently shelved retirement plans, and newcomers include Zac Tzern from South Australia, Ben Sullivan from Romsey and Brody Vick from Rochester.
“I have eight out this weekend, eight who I consider will be walk-up starters for round two,” said Doubleday.
“Judging on training and pre-season stuff, I’m quite confident we’ll be in the mix again. We seem to have a bit more depth.’

Maroochy-Northshore v Western Magpies
At Fisherman’s Road, 2pm Saturday

THE message from Maroochy-Northshore is clear: The club is prepared for some short-term pain for the long-term gain.
As the Roos prepared for their season-opener against Western Magpies at Fisherman’s Road, president Craig Scrase outlined events of what was a tumultuous off-season on the Sunshine Coast.
“We’ve undertaken a clean sweep,” declared Scrase. “We’ve taken the chance to put the broom through the club, getting rid of those not motivated toward bettering themselves and those around them.
“We’ve been two years in the finals and we’ve crashed straight out, so now we’ve decied to sacrifice talent for people with character.
“The long-term gain is worth the short- term gain. But, having said that, with the acquisitions we’ve got, and with the heart some of them showed in pre-season, we are poised to surprise a few teams.
“It’s going to be a tough year, but we can be dangerous.’
They are certainly fighting words from the Roo chief because the club is only a shell of that of the 2009 and 2010 seasons which ended so disappointingly under former coach Peter Somerville.
Scrase also pointed out the Roos are going big with their under-18 side in division one, where the foundations for a successful future hopefully will be laid.
This has to be the case considering who the Roos have lost. Gone are Ben Mathws (retired), Ryan White (to Victoria), Ben Stanley, Elliot Hohenhaus, and Owen Bailey and Travis Mills (both to Noosa).
Saturday’s opponents, the Western Magpies, are in much the same boat as Maroochy, having been relegated from state league (now the NEAFL) after two seasons that followed a Pineapple Hotel Cup premiership in 2008.
Under former reserves coach Peter McClennan, the Magpies have survived the floods that covered their Sherwood operation.
But they have to survive a talent drain that has resulted in a host of young players looking for greener pastured in the NEAFL.
They include Luke Scott, Matt Skubis and Drew Mitchell (all to Mt Gravatt) while Jim Rozynski and Ed McDonnell are having the season off.
“We’ve lost probably10, including nine to the NEAFL,” said football manager Anthony McDonald.
“:But we’ve had a bit of an influx from here and there. We have plenty of players and we still think we’re going to be competitive.”
Coach McClennan is unconcerned that he does not know too much about Maroochy, saying: “The way I approach things is I don’t worry about other sides. We have to regroup and we have a lot of promising  youngsters, so we’re  taking the approach to worry about the level we’re playing at,’

Springwood v Surfers Paradise
At Lowe Oval, 2pm Saturday
A NEW coach and a whole lot of young talent – that’s the recipe Springwood have put together for their bid for a drought-ending finals appearance in the Pineapple Hotel Cup.
The Pumas face Surfers paradise first-up, a satisfactory opening-round draw according to football manager Adrian Wallen.
The Pumas are pinning their faith on their junior production line and new coach Paul Opbroek has tutored many of this season’s list through his years with the club’s under-18s. He was coach of the last two premiership sides in that age group.”
We’ve lost Adam Stephens, but we’ve picked up Blake Wallis, a former Puma junior who was at Mt Gravatt,” said Wallin.
“Many in the senior side have been coached in under-18s by Paul over past few seasons and we’re relying on those kids who have had some success there.”
Wallin said, in some ways, it is good to play a side that just missed finals action last year in round one.
“I think, for us, it gives an idea of where we’ll be at rather than come up against a Noosa or Palm Beach first-up.,” he said.
Surfers, who many consider over-achieved last season by just missing the finals under Rob Martin, have 10 new faces for the season opener.
That is a major turnover, although the Demons seem to have picked up several talents despite not forking out any money for them.
“We are not paying a cracker this year again,” said Martin. “No one believes us, but that’s the absolute truth.”
The Demons have lost star Mark Strack, who has returned to Vitoria, but the incomings far outweigh the outgoings.
Newcomers named for the Springwood trip are Ryan Dienjes (Broadbeach), Sam Folan (Labrador), Trent Arthur (Broadbeach), James Nancarrow (Queanbeyan), Dan McGavin (Queanbeyan), Luke Richards (Perth), Luke Gavin (Vic country), Stuart Keel (Mornington Peninsula) and Patrick Ashton (Labrador).
But the biggest name among the 10 is Jake Ryan, back with his junior club after stints at Southport and in the Ovens and Murray where he won the league’s best and fairest.
Coach Martin prefers not to think about his Demons fighting above their weight division lat year with a team of battlers.
He prefers to look as it as many of his performers playing to their absolute best.
“This year, from what we’ve seen in practice matches, the guys we’ve added can use the ball a touch better,” he said.


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