THE Bay Tigers received a big pre-season boost when assistant coach John Boller said yesterday he was “90 per cent certain” the club would be able to field a reserve grade side this year.
The Tigers suffered a mass exodus to the re-formed Moruya Sharks in 2012 and could only field a first grade side – and even then, several under 18s players were required to fill gaps throughout the ill-fated Group 7 campaign.
However, Boller said there was “a good feeling” within the club this year and remained confident the Tigers would have two teams doing the rounds come the start of the season.
“We’ve got about 11 (reserve grade) blokes there who have been training, but another six or seven would be handy,” he said yesterday.
“I’m pretty confident we’ll get a side.”
Boller added that a reserve grade side would also greatly benefit the first grade squad, saying that competition for places was essential to avoid complacency.
He even went as far to say that reserve grade’s absence last season was partly to blame for the Tigers missing the first grade semi-finals.
“If we’ve got two sides, it’ll put more pressure on the first graders. They’re a bit complacent at the moment,” he said.
“I reckon it was (part of the problem last year). There was nobody pushing anyone and so everyone was guaranteed a game every week.”
When pushed on what was different this year compared to the 2012 pre-season, Boller insisted things were much more organised this time around.
“Deryck has got here earlier this year and he’s an enthusiastic sort of bloke,” he said.
Head coach Deryck Fox’s extensive off-season recruitment campaign paid off - four Englishmen have signed on for the season.
Two of the new UK brigade – Sam Cunningham and Lee Atherton – have had a few weeks to adjust to the Australian summer and Boller said he has been impressed with what he’s seen.
“Sam has been good and Lee has fitted in really well,” he said.
“Sam doesn’t say much, as in he hasn’t been talking it up or anything, he’s just been plugging away and hopefully that’s a really good sign.”
Meanwhile, new under 18s coach Danny Whitter has been blown away by what he described as “a family atmosphere” within the club.
“We’ve had some great sessions and we’ve got good numbers for the 18s but it would be nice to get a few more interested players to training,” he said.
“But the thing that’s amazed me is that we’ve had at least six committee members down to every training, encouraging the players and cooking the sausage sizzle.”
Boller agreed when he said: “Without the efforts of people like Jenny Ralph and Barb Beattie, things just don’t get done.”