THREE-PEAT IN SIGHT: The USQ Cougars will look to win their third successive AFLDD flag in 2018.
THREE-PEAT IN SIGHT: The USQ Cougars will look to win their third successive AFLDD flag in 2018. Ben Drewe

2018 AFLDD season preview

Chinchilla Suns
Chinchilla Suns Contributed


THE Suns are making the leap up to the top division after losing out in the preliminary final to Dalby last season in the second flight.

Coach Wayne Webber is looking for his side to be in the contest on a weekly basis, as they push for a finals berth.

"The club is viewing it as an exciting challenge. We want to be competitive,” Webber said.

"If we can put a good showing on the club will be happy.

"The boys are confident. We let ourselves down in that final last year. We have a good contingency of players from last year and recruits from out of town. We're looking good, and hopefully we have no injuries.

"As long as we can beat all the division two teams, we showed we could match it with them, and lower division one teams, we'll have a good year.

"We've been working on limiting our mistakes with the ball. We overused the ball too much and turned it over too easily last season.

"We want to limit the use and go more direct along the ground. We have some good young players that have a bit of speed, so we want to utilise that.”

Captain - TBD

Coach - Wayne Webber

Player to watch - Adam Boyd

Coolaroo Contributed


THE 2015 premiers are always around the mark, and this season won't be any different.

With one of the most talented squads across the board, there is no reason why Coolaroo can't progress as far as the grand final.

Coach Jon Wiedman said an emerging crop of juniors, mixed in with experienced heads, would help them mount another finals charge.

"We lost a prelim last year and have had a few big outs from that 2017 team. We have also lost Ray Riseley in a practice match, who will be out until mid-June,” Wiedman said.

"We have a much younger side, but will still be hopeful to challenge. It's unknown at this time of year, and we will know where we stand in a few weeks.

"Our real focus is on trying to introduce the younger players into senior football, and get that consistency amongst our older new players, working towards a common strategy and direction within the team.

"I think there is an underlying belief in the team, and they have the capabilities to challenge for a grand final. That's certainly our aim.”

Captain - Michael Langton

Coach - Jon Wiedman

Players to watch - Michael Langton and Tom Claydon

Dalby Swans
Dalby Swans Contributed


LAST year's division two premiers will be buoyed by their big win as underdogs in the decider, after coming up big in the second half.

The step up to the top-grade shouldn't impact them, as they have the roster to push for a finals berth, and it is something coach Ben Banks said he is anticipating.

"We're excited for the one division. I think it will be good and will bring us together,” Banks said.

"We've got some new young players, as we've lost a few of the older players who have had a couple of moves away.

"It will be a young side again, with a few from the U16s, so it will be good to see how they go moving up to the next level.

"The focus has been on getting to training and everyone getting back into the footy mood. We've been getting good numbers and spirit is high.

"We'd like to make the finals, that's for sure. Being competitive and getting there is the ultimate goal.”

Captain - TBD

Coach - Ben Banks

Player to watch - Jackson Paynter

Goondiwindi Hawks
Goondiwindi Hawks Contributed


THE Hawks were the surprise packets in the finals last year, coming from fourth to book their spot in the decider.

They came up clutch during that period, pulling out tight wins over South Burnett and Coolaroo.

There is no doubt they will have the talent and confidence to get to that stage again, and coach David O'Toole is hoping the young players can step up to the mark.

"We've had a few guys leave and a few new recruits as well. We've been training pretty steadily since the start of this year and had good hit out and win in Warwick in the Cardinal Cup,” O'Toole said.

"We're pretty motivated to try and do one better.

"It's very important when you win close games against good sides, and you realise what your own ability actually is. We were good enough to mix it with those sides (in last year's finals) and win games away from home.

"It's something we've struggled with in the past, and we're looking to be more competitive in Toowoomba this year. It's where you have to win the big games.”

Captain - Brent Townsend

Coach - David O'Toole

Player to watch - Sam McNorton

Highfields Lions
Highfields Lions Contributed


A TEAM that could cause a few upsets in the top division this season.

They made it to the preliminary final last year of division two, and have enough talent to mix it with the big boys, however it remains to be seen whether they will be there when the whips are cracking.

Coach Rob Baker said his side was prepared to embrace the challenge of life in the top flight.

"The boys are taking it in their stride. We have a pretty young team and we've set a challenge for them this year to complete and want to play,” Baker said.

"A lot of guys were wanting to play division one, and they're on board.

"We've focused on commitment and what we would like to achieve in terms of ladder position. We'd like to win at least 50 per cent of our games.

"As long as we're competitive. We've set the challenge and are raising the bar. We've played in a few preliminary finals without making grand finals. We want to take it up to the best and see how we go.”

Captain - Colin Stewart

Coach - Rob Baker

Player to watch - Brody Kahler

South Burnett Saints
South Burnett Saints Contributed


ANOTHER consistent performer in the top grade, South Burnett exited the competition in heartbreaking fashion last season, losing their elimination final by two points to eventual grand finalists Goondiwindi.

They will be buoyed by the fact they were able to go through the regular season with a 10-5 record, and coach Paul Presnell said he was hoping for a more efficient start to the year in 2018.

"Last year we let an opportunity slip and the boys realise that too,” Presnell said.

"We got away to a slow start, lost first three, and then got on a bit of a roll. We only missed out on second by a small percentage, and we wouldn't have put ourselves in that position with earlier wins.

"It's a similar side to last year, where we had 14 new players. We have had about a half-dozen new faces that have come from different codes and haven't played the game before, but they're picking it up quickly.

"It will be good to watch them grow throughout the year.”

Captain - Nathan Trace

Coach - Paul Presnell

Player to watch - Sam Edwards

South Toowoomba Bombers
South Toowoomba Bombers Contributed


AFTER missing out on the finals last year on percentages, the Bombers were left to rue a number of heavy defeats suffered throughout the season.

They will be keener than most to make a return to the business end of the season, a goal that coach Shaun Reardon has firmly in sight.

"Last year our problem was player numbers. We've recruited quite well and have a bit more depth this year,” Reardson said

"It's something we've lacked. Last year was disappointing from a club view, and we're looking to bounce back.

"We've brought in a couple of guys from Victoria that have moved back, and one from NT. They are welcome additions coming from an AFL background.

"Our main focus in the pre-season has been match simulation, which will help with contested possessions and ball movement, and hopefully that comes into play round one.

"It'll take us a good month to be comfortable, and we'll be a work in progress for the first few rounds at least.”

Captain - Keith Neumann and Jeff Neumann

Coach - Shaun Reardon

Player to watch - Mitchell Simpson

Toowoomba Tigers
Toowoomba Tigers Contributed


LAST year is in the past for the Tigers, after going from narrowly missing the finals in 2016 to winning just one of their 15 games last season.

Coach Scott Hannon said a number of off-season recruits in key positions will help to strengthen the side and improve their competitiveness ahead of the new year.

"This year our club picked up a few players, and some quality players within that. We're hoping to be more consistent than previous years,” Hannon said.

"Now there is only one division, from our point of view, we want to beat the better teams, hope to make the finals, and see what happens from there.

"We've picked up some players in key positions we've been lacking over the past few years. We've maintained a lot of the playing group from the year before.

"We hope to get a few juniors coming through and have some success in the juniors as well, and they keep going and coming into the men's and women's teams.”

Captain - Cam Percival

Coach - Scott Hannon

Player to watch - Scott Reaper

USQ Cougars
USQ Cougars Contributed


GUNNING for three-straight titles, the Cougars come into 2018 as the competition favourites.

They lost just three games last season, including a massive 44-point victory over the Hawks in the grand final.

Again, the target will be on their back from other sides to perform to the same level, but coach Tony Bullen said they have the skills and personnel to do so.

"We've been getting good numbers to training, and things are on track again we hope. We assume we'll be around the mark,” Bullen said.

"We lost about nine players from last year's premiership side, but we've picked up a few, and we'll be a different type of side.

"There's a lot of youth in our side this year which will work in our favour. A few older players may come back later in the year, with work commitments holding them up.

"The new players might take a little bit of time to gel, but a lot have been at training, and they understand the game plan. It won't be a big problem.”

Captain - Cory Balnaves

Coach - Tony Bullen

Player to watch - Andrew Spinks

Warwick Redbacks
Warwick Redbacks Contributed


THEY were the benchmark team of the division two season in 2017, however it all came apart in the big dance against Dalby.

The Redbacks know what it takes to compete on a week-to-week basis, losing just two games throughout the regular season last year.

Like Dalby, they should adjust to life back in division one, having won the 2014 premiership, and coach Peter Millard is backing his side in his last year of coaching.

"It wasn't our choice to play division two. These are most of the same teams we played last year so it won't make too much difference,” Millard said.

"We have lot of new guys, so basically we've been working on a lot of fitness, game skills and running the legs.

"Having the core players, it brings the new guys up to speed with how they played last year. There are a few experienced guys from other clubs, and it shows them the way we play the game.

"Finals is what I'm aiming for. It's probably my last year, and I want to keep the club in good stead for next year.”

Captain - Peter Millard

Coach - Andrew Bardsley

Players to watch - Core players

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