Redbacks gear up for training as season hangs in balance
AUSSIE RULES: A long pre-season has come to an end for Warwick Redbacks players who returned to the field on Tuesday night for the first training session as coronavirus restrictions start to ease.
Close to 14 players returned for the training session, the first the club had held since March when the season was brought to a standstill.
Head coach Phil Cooney was eager to see players return to training ahead of the highly anticipated 2020 season.
“It was a bit novel with all of the procedures that have to be in place,” Cooney said.
“We had to have a register and all the balls had to be wiped down but it went down quite smoothly.
“It was quite encouraging, numbers, we had 12 or 14 there which was good for the first kick-off and our two-hour training session.”
A start date for the Darling Downs AFL season is yet to be announced but fixtures are expected to start on July 11, with nine rounds of home and away football, before a three-week finals series finishing on September 12.
Uncertain if all nine teams would nominate for the season, Cooney hoped those who did return would be ready to play.
“There is a degree of uncertainty, but it is looking like from the feedback I’ve heard, everyone is keen to go,” he said.
“There has been a bit of distance between Dalby and Highfields, with Dalby looking to field a team again.
“You have to wait for things to be put in place before you can do anything.”
The Redbacks are yet to appoint a captain for the season, but Cooney is determined to operate a co-captaincy leadership group, bringing a greater depth to the players.
“We will be electing a leadership group a week out from our first game if it does go ahead, just with co-captaincy nominations, just to see who is around and there’s a few guys that have lost their jobs.”
With a COVIDSafe officer in place, the Redbacks leadership have stressed the importance of the regulations for players to ensure social distancing and hygiene standards are maintained.
As restrictions continue to ease, and the season start approaches, Cooney will continue to look for more players to join the team.
“You’ve got to have at least (to field a quality side) 24 – therein lies 18 playing, four on the bench and two emergencies,” he said.
“And then of course because of work commitments, injuries or sickness, you get players dropping out.
“Coolaroo are the biggest because you have the most people to draw from, but (those numbers) just come in time.
“The guys are keen to get going with it.”