No Jay Foon, no Arion Richter-Salter – no worries.
North Launceston is confident it has the talent within to restructure slightly in order to fill voids left in its defence through injury and suspension.
Out of the Northern Bombers’ selected 22 for Saturday’s second semi-final against Glenorchy at UTAS Stadium, there are just five players yet to taste premiership success in red and black.
However, among Beau Sharman, Michael Tang, Sherrin Egger, Jordan Cousens and Fletcher Bennett there is some serious talent and finals experience.
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Former Devonport skipper Sharman and Egger played State League finals with the Magpies, Cousens is a Rocherlea NTFA flag winner and Bennett and Tang have tasted September pressure at some stage throughout their football journeys.
“It’s been great this year to play regular senior footy after just playing two games last year,” 18-year-old Bennett, who has played 12 matches this year, said.
“I still don’t think I’ve nailed down my spot yet, so hopefully I will with consistent efforts at training and on game day, particularly this week.
“I’ve been told I will be playing down back for the finals campaign after playing a high half-forward role – I love learning different positions on the ground.”
North will be aiming for its fifth grand final in a row, having gone back to back under Zane Littlejohn in 2014-15, losing to Glenorchy in 2016 and smashing Lauderdale last season.
Four players – coach Taylor Whitford, captain Brad Cox-Goodyer, Zach Burt and Jack Avent – have been lucky enough to be part of them all.
Sharman, 29, spent more than a decade at Devonport before crossing over to Invermay after the Pies dropped out of the TSL during the off-season, and he is keen to return to finals and book a grand final berth.
“I knew a fair few of the boys after I was here in 2010 for a season when I was at Uni,” he said.
“As a leader at Devonport I tried to set the standards, here it’s trying to meet their standards and fit into the group and gel.
“A lot of the pressure is gone and all I have to do is go out there and play my best wherever required.”
Sharman has played various roles in Whiftord’s side, but his sublime ball use has been most advantageous on the wing.
He is a chance to drop back this weekend to help out and thinks the mood among his refreshed teammates, after coming off the bye and playing two games in a month, is one of intent.
“I haven’t been this far in the State League before, so a trophy would be nice.”
Former Port Melbourne player Tang, who trained with North Melbourne over the summer, has been a regular starter since crossing over from Victoria and will be forced to carry a bigger load down back along side Burt, Egger, Connor Young and co.
“Taylor has used me all over the ground which has been good to get to know how all the guys play, but I am a backman by trade,” Tang, who has a family connection to North, said.
“My partner is [two-time North Launceston TFL premiership player] Marcus Todman’s niece and Marcus doesn’t stop talking about the place, so I thought I’d come down and try it out.
“I’m really excited because the team is strong and healthy, we just need to make it happen.”
Tom Couch and Rhyan Mansell have been drafted into the starting 22 for Richter-Salter and Lochlan Young, while the Pies have recalled Josh Grant, Zac Webster and Rhys Mott.
The match starts at 3.30pm.
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