Yeppoon Swans set sights on three-peat
AUSSIE RULES: Yeppoon Swans' coach Mark Wallin has issued an ominous warning to his team's rivals in the AFL Capricornia competition in 2017.
"We're probably five or six players better than last year so we're excited for a big year,” he says, with his eyes firmly fixed on a three-peat.
Wallin is into his fourth year as coach of the Swans and guided the team to back-to-back premierships last year.
He and his squad now have a new goal - to win three flags in a row.
"There's no greater motivation,” he says of the goal.
"No other Yeppoon Swans side has done it and we're very keen to become the first. We want to be the best Swans side that has ever pulled the jumper on for the club.”
Wallin says there is plenty of talent among the new recruits for 2017, including ruckman Eli Wells from Tasmania and centre half back Dan Maloney from Victoria.
They are likely to get a start with the Swans when they line up for the curtain raiser to the AFL clash between the Gold Coast Suns and Essendon in Mackay on February 26.
The reigning AFL Capricornia premiers will take on the reigning AFL Mackay premiers, the Mackay City Hawks, in the AFLQ Central Queensland Cup at 1pm before the main game kicks off at 3.40pm.
AFL Queensland state football operations manager Barry Gibson said the match was the first of its kind for Central Queensland.
"It's a great initiative between AFL Mackay and AFL Capricornia and hopefully the start of an annual pre-season match-up between the two reigning premiers,” he said.
Wallin hopes that is the case too.
"It's a great way to showcase both leagues with the two premier sides playing off in the curtain raiser to this game,” he said.
"It could be the start of something very big. If it's successful it could be one of many more to come.
"It will be great for the game in general and provide an added incentive for clubs to win a premiership.”
Wallin said that he would likely have the 24-strong squad for the game decided by this weekend.
"We're going to definitely try some of the new fellas. Even though it is a showcase game, we've got to have a look at these guys and see what they've got to offer.
"Most of them will get a start, even if it's for just half a game of football. They will definitely get their chance.”
Wallin is again placing a heavy emphasis on fitness this season.
"It's still the key. To play the plan that we want to play you've got to be fit,” he said.
"The players have to rise to that challenge and they definitely are. They want it and most of them are training four to five teams a week just to get their fitness level to a new level.”
Wallin is unabashed about his will to succeed.
"The motivation for me is winning but I do like seeing these guys having a good time. They're a pretty easy group to coach because they're just so committed and so close as a group and I think that's played a big part in our success.
"I'm probably more excited this year than I have been any other year as far as the list of players we've got and the determination they've got to succeed.”