Men's Hockey: Tamworth Frogs hoping to land elusive title

STAR POWER: Matt Willis will be key to Tamworth's chances at the open state championships at Moorebank this weekend.
STAR POWER: Matt Willis will be key to Tamworth's chances at the open state championships at Moorebank this weekend.

Tamworth coach Andrew Farmilo has deservedly high hopes for the Frogs at this weekend’s open state championships at Moorebank.

The return of a few familiar faces has rejuvenated the side after retirements, injuries and unavailabilities left them a bit light on last year.

The likes of Matt Willis, Brandan Horner, James Riddell, Simon Massey and Sam Liles will combine with local stars such as Isaac Farmilo, Ehren Hazell and Jeremy Blakely to form a formidable outfit.

Liles is just back from a stint in Belgium and will be part of a potent midfield along with Willis and Hazell, with Massey and Riddell to hold the fort at the back.

Sam Clifton is also set to make his Frogs return.

It’s “been a while” since the Souths United coach last played opens, possibly around 10 years, he said.

“It should be interesting. It’s a totally different looking team,” he added.

Albeit a strong looking one.

Farmilo certainly likes it.

“It’s a pretty good side. I’m pretty happy with it,” he said.

“Last year we were very, very young. We’ve got a bit more experience this year.”

Toby Whitten is the lone debutant and was impressive for his Workies side in their win over Kiwis on the weekend, with Farmilo, who is also his Workies coach, labeling Whitten’s performance his best of the season. 

“That sort of form going into a state championships is really good,” Farmilo said.

The Frogs’ first aim will be making the semi-finals. After successive finals appearances they have missed out on the semi-finals their past two campaigns.

One of their biggest problems, Farmilo said, has been converting their penalty corners.

“If we can score off our penalty corners that makes everything easier,” he said.

Rule changes being introduced for this year’s championships will put a lot more focus on scoring field goals. Teams will have the chance to double up from field goals, with the goalscorer also earning a one-on-one with the keeper.

“That probably helps us. We’ve got some good finishers,” Farmilo said.

Farmilo’s son, Isaac, and Horner will lead the strike force, in what will be for Horner something of a home championships.

He plays for Moorebank in the Sydney competition.

For all the talent, though, the Frogs do have a tough pool to negotiate.

They have drawn Central Coast, who are currently winning the Newcastle competition, Newcastle (1) and an Illawarra South Coast outfit boasting Kookaburras squad members Kieran Govers and Tristan White.

The Frogs will field two sides. A much younger side, the 2s, will contest Division 2.

The three-day championships get underway on Saturday. 

TAMWORTH 1: Matthew Willis, Andrew Kelly, Sam Clifton, Jeremy Blakely, Jack Cruickshank, Calvin Farmilo, Ehren Hazell, Brandan Horner, Toby Whitten, Sam Wright, Isaac Farmilo, Ben Hanlan, Samuel Liles, Simon Massey, James Riddell.

TAMWORTH 2: Luke Albertson, Connor Campbell, Nicholas Chaffey, Toby Climpson, Andrew Farmilo, Hamish McAdam, Stuart McAdam, Alex Taggart, Jack Watson, Luke Wilson, Isaac Woodley, Joshua Worpel, Sean Aslin, Addison Coutman, Tim McKenzie, Liam Smith.