Eagles strengthen squad for expanded league
AUSSIE RULES: An ongoing focus on youth, quality recruits and a solid pre-season has the Ipswich Eagles ready to launch another premiership campaign.
The Eagles open the newly established QFA Division 2 North season away against Park Ridge on Saturday.
The new competition starts earlier than previous years with 12 teams to play 18 games.
With sides from Park Ridge and Alexandra Hills joining the expanded league, Eagles coach and club stalwart Kym Mansell expects plenty of challenging contests this season.
However, the Eagles have been boosted by retaining most of last year's squad and the addition of South Fremantle premiership-winning utility player Tyler Hall and midfielder Jacob Huisman from the Essendon Football League.
"They bring experience and they are really good influencers over the whole squad,'' Mansell said.
That will benefit the Eagles who have appointed Gary Williamson as captain and another exciting youth prospect Zac Lawrence as vice-captain.
"We're just going forward in a different direction with the younger players,'' Mansell said.
"We want the younger players to take more ownership of the team.
"Nothing wrong with the last leadership team we had. They are just a bit older.''
The Eagles started training eight weeks before Christmas, having some recent trial games to prepare for the new format.
"We're happy where we are at. The boys have had a pretty good pre-season,'' Mansell said.
He's looking to last year's consistent performers like Hayden Carthew-Zimmer and Jack Boston to reach the next level this season.
Last year's premiership-winning women's coach Rex Watts is guiding the Ipswich men's Reserve Grade side this year.
The Eagles women are expected to open their title defence on April 25 following a trial against Beenleigh on March 20.
Club president Clint Bateman is coaching the women's side.
Saturday (noon and 2pm): QFA Division 2 North - Ipswich Eagles v Park Ridge at Park Ridge High.