EDGEWORTH’S Damian Zane knows all too well the impact a new coach can have on an established squad.
Zane took the Eagles to the Northern NSW National Premier League double in his first season as a senior coach last year. So when Edgeworth start their defence against Lambton Jaffas on Saturday at Edden Oval, Zane will be on guard.
The Jaffas, who were second last year and narrow losers to Hamilton in the semi-finals, enter round one with just two training sessions under new coach James Pascoe. The former Jets assistant took over this week after the resignation of David Tanchevski last month.
Asked if he would be taking Jaffas lightly because of the change, Zane said: “If anything, I’d be more worried because everyone is out to impress a new coach. Look at us last year. Pre-season started and everyone was super fit and ready because there was a new coach. If you hadn’t been getting a go, you were looking to make an impression.”
Jaffas striker John Majurovski, who represented the club at an NPL season launch at Fort Scratchley on Wednesday, had his fingers crossed that Zane was right.
“I’m hoping it does that,” Majurovski said. “I want to go out with a bang and win another grand final, that would be great.
“Hopefully it does have that impact, and it has shown at training this week. A lot of players are coming in fresh and on the same page.”
A grand final winner with Jaffas in 2014, Majurovski said Pascoe had already changed the way they train.
“It’s been a bit different, a bit more intense,” he said.
“No disrespect to Tanch, I enjoyed his sessions, but I’m enjoying something different now. It’s a breath of fresh air with Jimmy, coming from the Jets, it’s a bit more professional. But in saying that, look what we did in the last three years under Tanch. We made the grand twice and the semis last year.
“Time and results will tell with Jimmy and if his new approach is the way to go for the club and better than what we did with Tanch and a more relaxed approach.”
For Edgeworth, the challenge will be backing up their all-conquering 2015 against Jaffas, Hamilton and Broadmeadow line-ups who have all added to their depth.
“We’ve got a target on our back and I think whoever wins always does,” Zane said.
“It’s tough doing it again the next year and I think there’s even less between the top teams these days.”
The Eagles will be without defender Josh Evans (work), while the Jaffas have skipper Jobe Wheelhouse under an injury cloud.
The rest of the round will be played Sunday. Maitland host Hamilton at Cooks Square Park, Charlestown play Valentine at Lisle Carr Oval, Broadmeadow welcome Adamstown at Magic Park and Weston face the Jets Youth at Weston Park.
Zane, meanwhile, believed the Jaffas remained one of the most dangerous sides in the competition with the likes of Wheelhouse, Luke Remington, Peter McPherson and Majurovski in their squad.
“For me, the Jaffas are the team you’ve got to watch,” he said.
“Everyone seems to forget they came second last year, maybe because they started slow, and they almost won their semi-final.”
The Eagles have lost skipper and grand final man of the match Luke Walker, who has moved to Melbourne, but still have Keanu Moore in midfield.
Moore, who represented the Edgeworth at the season launch, trialled with Sydney clubs and the Mariners but has returned to the Eagles.
“He’s still not sure whether there may be something down the track for him and it may be during the year,” Zane said of Moore leaving.
“At the moment, we’re happy to have him back. He adds another midfielder to our depth and we have great depth there. He’s quality and can win you a game anytime. We’re not complaining.”
As for the Jaffas, Majurovski said the result on Saturday would have little to do with the late change of coach and he was excited about the addition of Rhys Tippett, Joel Wood, Callan Lewis and Ben Hay to the squad.
“It’s sad that Tanch left, and he had his reasons, but he left us in good condition,” he said. “We’ve built a good squad and we’ve got a few senior heads there, so I don’t think the change in coach will have much to do with if we win or lose tomorrow.
”They are a disciplined side Edgy, so hopefully Jimmy brings in a bit of discipline for us and we can match it with them.
“We’ve definitely got the talent and we’ve got a bit more depth this year with Tippo, Woodsy, Callan and Benny Hay coming in. We haven’t had that in other years.”