New-look zone side fit to challenge

Anew look South East Zone representative side is looking to take the fight to the state’s best at the 2022 SA Country Football Championships in Whyalla this weekend.

The prize of being the best in the state is too big not to miss and a strong South East squad featuring some of the most dazzling names from the Western Border, Mid South Eastern and Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara Football Leagues will take on the road trip.

After many years of joining forces with the Murray area, the South East will be all on its own this year, but that does not mean the 24-player squad is short on skill and new coach Jack Kelly is looking forward to seeing what they have in store, especially when the former comrades meet in the opening game.

“It is a really competitive squad with eight (players) from all three leagues coincidentally,” he said.

“We might be lacking a couple of stars, but we have filled it with really good competitors.

“The evergreen Matt Willson has played a lot of zone and state footy and I am really excited to see how Tom Whittlesea goes up forward having played a bit of league football.

“Pat Davies from Kalangadoo was also playing league footy this time last year, so it will be great to see how he goes and we also have the big 200cm Mark Marriott.

“Coincidentally we are playing the Murray boys in the Eastern Zone in the first game which will be a good challenge.”

With the Murray players not joining the South East this year, the training schedule has been slightly revised, but Kelly still believes it should be good enough preparation to ensure the side is in tip top shape to hit the ground running.

“It has been a good build up and I have been on the phone a lot trying to get a competitive squad together,” he said.

“In previous years we have a session when the Murray boys come down, but we do not have that this year, so we will have one session together in Penola before we head off.

“That wont be all about touching footys, it will more be about having those conversations and breaking down barriers.

“We are really excited to see how the group gels which is one of the challenges all zones are faced having 24 blokes from all walks of life come together in a tough format.”

Kelly is no stranger to the SA Country Championships setup having been an assistant in recent years, but now he has taken over the big job from Adam Merrett.

Last year it was a tale of what could have been for the Murray South East with turnovers proving costly as the side had to settle for fifth after losing the first two games.

If chasing state honours was not enough, the prospect of being selected in the SA Country team which will take on WA Country as a curtain raiser to the Adelaide Crows v Carlton AFL match at Adelaide Oval on Saturday, July 30 will shine bright.

A SANFL League contest between North Adelaide and Adelaide will also take centre stage on Sunday afternoon.

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