Owen McIllwraith in the Cougars first trial game for the 2012 soccer season.
Owen McIllwraith in the Cougars first trial game for the 2012 soccer season. Chris Ison

Cougars slash squad to 22

COUGARS coach Joe Fenech has made some tough decisions and wittled his squad down to just 22 players.

When any squad is named there are always a few surprises both in the list of inclusions and omissions.

Australian-based French striker Gerard Ouffoue did not do enough during his trial period with the club to be offered a place.

Of those named just two players have come to Rockhampton to specifically join the 2012 squad and they are Jan Urban and Rudi Mozr.

"There are still three or four spots open," Fenech said.

The coach is yet to see a couple of local players in action and intends to look at others in the Frenchville six-a-side pre-season carnival to see if they have what it takes to be a part of the Cougars.

"I am excited as we have the best players who are available," he said.

That does not mean Fenech is about to make predictions on how the Cougars will perform in this year's state league.

"I can't say how we will compare with other clubs," he said.

"Even Bundaberg has strengthened its squad this year."

Being a realist Fenech knows the young Cougars players will be on a learning curve and therefore does not intend to place them under any added pressure.

"I'll take the heat when things go wrong," he said.

"But our discipline will be important."

Fenech has been in contact with local club coaches about the players he has released and their coaching requirements but he also has the other problem of keeping squad players, not used in the Cougars team, involved and ready if called on.

"It's a major headache," he admitted.

Some of the younger players are Bluebirds' Jordan Polkinghorne and Capricorn Coast's Matterson McGuire while Robbie Jones, another Bluebirds talent, is named after putting in an impressive display at Blackwater last week.

To encourage local coaches to be a part of the Cougars, Fenech has offered them to look after one of the squads, like Parkana's Tony Zanda did against Emerald, while players are still trialling for first team places.

In return Fenech will assist the club coaches by offering to take coaching sessions with their teams.

Added to the coaching challenge is Dutch visitor Martin Rommens.

"I'm trying to get him involved in the JPL (Junior Premier League) as well as the senior Cougars," he said.While Fenech is senior coach of the Cougars he said he would, eventually, like to see the position develop into a managerial role with coaching staff working under him.

"I think that is a few years away," he said.

This weekend the Cougars will take 30 players to Gladstone for two trial games at Wolves ground.


2012 Cougars squad

1 Tim English, 2 Matt Sauer, 3 Jan Urban, 4 Rudi Mozr, 5 Troy Ruthven (c), 6 Dylan Kussrow, 7 Jordan Miller, 8 Jonathan Sauer, 9 Michael Cay, 10 Sander Waterland, 11 Jarod Lancaster, 12 Bryce Ruthven, 13 Robbie Jones, 14 Sean Jasperson, 15 Jade Dileen, 16 Ben Millar, 17 Chris Swain, 18 Jordan Polkinghorne, 19 Tyler Stross, 20 Owen McIllwraith, 21 Matterson McGuire, 22 Joel Morrison. Coach: Joe Fenech

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