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Youth the key for AFL squad

Common cause: Coffs Swans Kris Rundell (left) and Sawtell’s Daniel Pritchard will be working together today for the AFL North Coast team.
Common cause: Coffs Swans Kris Rundell (left) and Sawtell’s Daniel Pritchard will be working together today for the AFL North Coast team. Bruce Thomas

AFL North Coast will look to continue its strong Interleague record as it takes on the Tamworth AFL (TAFL) at Armidale this afternoon.

North Coast coach Peter Chadwick will take charge of a vastly different squad with a distinct spread of youth.

It is fair to say the side has been depleted with the loss of a number of walk-up starters from the original squad with last year’s league Best and Fairest winner Mark Couzens the latest to pull out with injury.

The youngsters will have to stand up against an improving league that will benefit from the home-ground advantage where the Coast side will have to adapt quickly to the cold conditions in Armidale.

There is talent on every line for the North Coast.

The backline provides a good mix of defensive and rebounding ability with the experience of Daniel Pritchard and Jim Angel sure to be beneficial.

There is, however, an injury cloud with half-back Levi Sands nursing a knee complaint.

Coffs Swans captain-coach Kris Rundell and Jed Ellis-Cluff offer speed on the wing, while the half-forward line looks particularly impressive with Aaron Clarke and Jesse Schmidt heading into the game with form under their belts.

Ben Hooke is the leading goal-kicker in the league and will, no doubt, be hard to stop at full-forward.

The hard work will need to be done in the centre.

Ben Miller earns his debut cap in the ruck and needs to be at his best in the hit-out duels. The Nambucca Valley duo of Monty Schmidt and Luke Benson normally play negating roles and a lot will rest on their shoulders to win the hard ball against former North Coast product Hamish Pearce.

Another player the starting favourites will have to stop is TAFL Power captain Gavin Knee. Knee won the Graham Nuttall Trophy as best on ground in the 2009 grand final and has been a leading local footballer for a number of years.