Panther veteran his fittest for a decade

WEE WAA’S veteran Group 4 rugby league prop Ant Sadler will take the field as fit as he’s been in nearly a decade when the Panthers clash with Seagulls in the Challenge Cup first-round clash in Kingscliff tonight.

Sadler is in his 16th year of grade football with the Panthers and is looking to finish his playing career in peak form.

“I’m as fit as I’ve been since 1992 when we won the premiership under John Harvey against West Tamworth,” Sadler said this week.

“The last two seasons I’ve been 60 or 70 per cent fit but now I’m about 85 per cent and looking to push 90.

“I’m 33 this year and this season will be it for me.”

Sadler was looking forward to his dual with last year’s Country prop Andrew Whittington.

Whittington is an old teammate of Panther coach Lee Stanford so Wee Waa will have some idea of what to expect.

Sadler’s front row partner will initially be Tony Reynolds with Troy Bell as hooker. Stanford will come off the bench.

“Troy and I have played together for the past five years. I haven’t had a lot of game time with Tony (Reynolds) but he’s a big and fit sort of bloke,” Sadler said.

The big prop is well aware Wee Waa will need to play quality football to progress to the second round.

“We’ve been told they will be fit and pretty big,” Sadler said.

It is the Wee Waa backline which Sadler believed could prove the difference in the match.

“I think we’ve got one of the best backlines around,” Sadler said.

“We’ve got the size with Mat Hogan and Tom Wilson out wide and our new five-eighth Matt Evans looks a real good player.”

Gold Coast Group 18 secretary Bill Carroll said Seagulls finished third in last season’s competition.

“Seagulls have overall a very strong side.

“There’s plenty of experience and plenty of youth in their squad,” Carroll said this week.

Young fullback Shane Hollands is one to watch while former ex-Canterbury flyer Robin Thorne will take his place on the wing.

Thorne was one of the players of the match in Canterbury’s 1988 grand final win against Balmain.

Goal-kicking five-eighth David Strachan is another to watch as is lock Kris Flint who was on the field when the infamous Commonwealth Bank Cup schoolboy brawl took place several years ago.

Flint will line up opposite Wee Waa’s Brad Cruickshank.