By MADDY McCASKILL
Pre-season matches are a time where new players get a run and coaches get a chance to experiment.
For Canberra Demons coach Kade Klemke, Saturday’s practice match victory over Albury showed just how hard it will make selecting teams for the upcoming NEAFL season.
The Demons were only three points ahead of the Tigers after a slow first quarter, but gritted down to score an impressive 122-point win at Wodonga Senior Secondary College.
Klemke said there were some big positives to come out of the game and believes the team has come a long way since last season.
“The 28 players that we took all played well which will make selection very hard,” he said.
“Albury are known to be a very strong and successful side. They came in firing with their contested footy which took a while for our boys to adjust to, but I thought our contested footy after quarter one was really good.
“To see every player get involved was great, which shows our depth is a lot stronger this year.”
Klemke was impressed by the players who stepped up in the game and took leadership following the departure of former co-captain, Jordan Harper.
“We’re seeing a lot more leaders come out and a lot more guys are communicating this year,” Klemke said.
“It’s great to see guys helping our younger ones which is probably something we lacked a bit last year.
“All the younger guys have come from leadership roles in previous programs and even though its their first year of NEAFL footy, they’re already directing.
“Its great for us to have 28 guys that help each other out.”
Klemke was pleased across the board with performances, but pointed out that Mitch Hardie and Tom Highmore really stood up.
The Demons will continue their hard work in training over the next few weeks before their season opener against Southport at Quenbeyan on Good Friday.
Klemke said the boys will continue to work on their ball movement and structure as this was one thing that let them down last season.
“We fell down a lot in our midfield last year, especially against the AFL sides and got a lot of goals scored against us,” he said.
“We really need to focus hard on our midfield and how we match up one-on-one (and) focusing on not getting beaten so easily, letting sides run through us and not putting pressure on.”