Season 2012 Preview: Wildcats, Roos
We are three days away from round one folks! Excitement levels are through the roof. We have one more preview for you; the final two teams: Hamilton Wildcats and last year's premiers Etobicoke Roos. The Wildcats had an outstanding year in 2011 finishing in second place before the finals and will be looking to go one or two better this year; the mighty Roos will be chasing back-to-back flags. Both teams have chosen to be mysterious about their off-season and playing list and did not lodge a player-preview report, so, with that, we'll do our best here and go by "hearsay". Let the guess work begin.
From what we've read about the Wildcats on Twitter over the winter break, they took to conditioning sessions sometime in January and have orgainized several indoor and outdoor skills sessions along the way through March and April. In terms in departures, they have lost a handful of Aussies. Not sure if they have been replaced.
Last year: 2nd (before finals)
2012 Prediction: Anywhere from third to sixth
What we say: It's difficult to say what 2012 holds for the Wildcats, and, you can put every team in that category at this time of year. But, here's some things we do know: they play hard, uncompromising football; they are tough to beat at Mohawk Park; they are a side of strong bodies and tacklers. Brut strength aside, there are question marks over their skill and speed, especially with the loss of a number of Australians. But, to their credit, they have a "fear" factor about them. Every team knows they're in for a tough one when they play the Wildcats. And this will always work in their favour. It's a new year though. Other teams have been working just as hard in the off-season (think, Blues, Dingos, Guelph, Demons) and have bulked up. Maybe, this year their one main strength will be nullified? Finals for Wildcats? Yes. Just how far though.
Wow, talk about putting a lid on it. Last year's Premiers have been very quiet about what they did over the long break. That could mean they've relaxed and celebrated their 2011 Premiership in style for six months, or they've been busy hashing out plans for back-to-back flags. The latter, would be scary, although we think their pre-season program fell somewhere in between. There's been some yoga and core conditioning sessions that have popped up on the Roos' players Twitter accounts. Midfield star, Dusty Allen, has departed for B.C. this year and will not be seen in a blue and white jumper. Trav McKenzie is back on his feet and training the house down -- but not for football. He's embarking on his triathlon business this season. Canadian, Adam Paterson may have retired, although this is not confirmed. Tall fella, Andrew Hogan departed for home last year, but there were talks of his return as a player or perhaps coach? The word is too, a former AFL player, from North Melbourne (also Chippa's mate) will be joining the Roos this year. Lots of "ifs and buts" here.
Last year: 1st
2012 Prediction: 1st - Premiers
What we say: It seems this year the competition will be a lot closer, but the Roos will start 2012 favourites to claim the OAFL premiership. Why? Even though they have several star players missing from their line up this year (that is of course they are in fact not playing. Don't be surprised if you see these blokes roll up for a kick round one), they have such great depth in their Australian core players and Canadians. What the loss of some players means for the rest of the league is perhaps games against the Roos will be a little closer and for the Roos, perhaps games will be just a bit tougher to grind out. But, each year they raise the bar and since their first flag in 2008, they've competed for a premiership every year (except for 2010) wining two of them. Make no mistake, the reigning champs, they deserve to start favourites this year and will still be the team to beat.