Tigers relying on department of youth in hunt for third flag
GRAFTON Tigers head into their 2013 campaign confident of another successful title defence, but will first have to overcome the loss of key players.
Grafton has won the AFL North Coast premiership two years in a row, and half back flanker Tim Whalan said there was no reason why they couldn't make it a "threepeat".
"We have lost some of our biggest and better players but I think we can still do it," Whalan said.
"We might have to take a different approach to our games to do it but our team can do it."
The Tigers have lost several key players from their premiership-winning team, including forward and former captain Dan Zacek and goal-scoring machine Lee Anderson.
Their retirements didn't seem to faze coach Adi Campbell, who said the younger players would have no trouble stepping up.
"I think the newer guys last year will need to step up and our younger players will improve as the year goes on," Campbell said.
"We are looking all right at the moment and I think we'll be up there."
Whalan said Sawtell-Toormina and Port Macquarie may be their strongest opponents, with Sawtell rumoured to have recruited heavily ahead of their premiership charge.
Both Campbell and Whalan nominated Lionel Wilson as a player to watch this year, with Campbell saying he was "probably one of the best trainers so far".
"Lionel moved up from South Australia and rocked up one night wanting a kick," Campbell said.
"He's got a great skillset and could be one to watch this year."