DANIEL Ritter hopes his Scone Thoroughbreds can kick back from an unlucky North Tamworth pre-season tournament with some successful Scanlon Shield performances at Denman Oval today.
The 25-year-old captain-coach is in his first stint as a senior coach and already encountered the problems that affect many – unavailability of players for work or personal commitments.
In Tamworth last weekend he had a squad full of young players with half a dozen of his normal first grade backline away.
“We were a bit unlucky against Gunnedah in the first game and then Wee Waa scored with a minute to go,” Ritter told The Leader.
“We only had a squad of 16, the majority of whom were young blokes and juniors. So it was a pretty good effort up there. We only had three or four regular first graders.”
With a number of regular first graders returning tomorrow he is hoping for a win against Denman in their first game of Scanlon Shield at Denman Oval from about 11.35pm starts better.
The likes of Tim Smith, Josh Adams and fullback Byron Warren return to help Ritter against the Dean Amos-captain-coached Devils.
He also has a number of young players he hopes will all make a mark at some stage. Jake Watts, James Eveleigh, Jesse Kilroy and Cody McCarthy, to name a few.
“I coached them in the juniors a couple of years when we won the premiership,” he recalled.
“Good to see them come on . We used to muck around a lot, now we’re playing together.”
He said the Thoroughbred pack, minus last year’s coach Grant Wooden, is not as big but is mobile.
Second grade captain-coach Henry Wicks will also play hooker this weekend while the return of trainer Peter Thompson and the help of assistant coach Aaron Watts will be invaluable throughout the year.
“We’ve had a pretty good pre-season,” Ritter said.
“Having Pete and Aaron to help out will be good. Everything seems to be going all right but the Scanlon Shield will give us a better idea of where we are and working on a few combinations before we play Aberdeen (at Aberdeen) in our first comp game.”
That takes place Sunday, April 7 after Singleton and Denman match up at Singleton’s ResCo Park in a Saturday, April 6 opener.
Greta Branxton play Muswellbrook Rams in the other first round game on Sunday, April 7.
Tomorrow Singleton tackle Greta Branxton in the first Scanlon Shield game (10.05am), followed by the Denman-Scone clash and then Muswellbrook versus Aberdeen (1.05pm.
The winners of the first two games then play the winner of the third game and the highest ranked loser from the first two games.
The Scanlon Shield won’t be decided Sunday though.
It will be played for the first time the two finalists meet in a Thiess Services Hunter Valley Group 21 premiership match!