AKAMANIA has hit the Gold Coast in time for the big southern derby between Coolangatta and Palm Beach.
Jason Akermanis – colourful, controversial and classy – will be lining up for Coolangatta in what the club hopes will be a major finance-raiser.But the match of the round, from a Gold Coast perspective at least, is at Len Peak Oval where former Brisbane and Western Bulldogs star Jason Akermanis will make a guest appearance for Coolangatta in the local derby against Palm Beach-Currumbin. There is plenty of hype about the appearance of ‘Aka’ in a one-off fund-raiser for the Blues. Elsewhere, Burleigh host Sandgate at Bill Godfrey Oval, Maroochy-Northshore take on Mayne at Fisherman’s Road, and Springwood host premiers Noosa at Lowe Oval.
By Terry Wilson
Coolangatta v Palm Beach-Currumbin
At Len Peak Oval, 2pm Saturday
The triple Brisbane AFL premiership star and 2001 Brownlow Medallist is playing on permit from Tasmania Clarence after a guest-speaking role at a function on Friday night and will no doubt attract a sizeable crowd.
Coolangatta coach Neil McKay has come to the party by confirming Akermanis will start in the middle.
But it’s not all about Akermanis, McKay said. There are four premiership points up for grabs for these traditionally fierce Coast rivals.
“We’ve been talking about this for two weeks and getting players to focus on the game,” said McKay. “It’s not all about Jason Akermanis.
“The theme this week is that good teams don’t lose two in a row.”
McKay was referring to a dreadful third quarter from the Blues against Sandgate last weekend, a term that definitely cost his side an upset.
“We have to get back to playing the sort of footy we want. We got away from that in third last quarter last week and we have to learn our lesson quickly.
The Blues have three changes, losing a key in Chris Carins (family) along with Brad Platt (injured) and Cam Maxwell (named as emergency).
The ins are Akermanis, Matt Gallagher and 18-year-old Daniel Cossar.
back to seconds.
Palm Beach-Currumbin coach Craig O’Brien believes all the pressure is on Coolangatta with Akermanis as the headline act.
The Lion went through something similar last year when North Melbourne great Wayne Carey made a playing appearance for the club, only to break down in the first minute.
“There’s more pressure on Cooly because of the big day and all the things they have had to organise,” said O’Brien.
“Last year with us and Wayne Carey, there were a lot of expectations.”
The Lions have only once change, bringing speed machine Arnold Knight back in place of Tyson Dyer.
O’Brien belies with Knight back in, plus the rise of youngsters such as Troy Brown and Stephan Thynne, there is much more pace in his side.
“We’re starting to find some form and we’re looking forward to this game,” said O’Brien.
“In our first three games we were good in patches but we didn’t run the games out. Now we’ve injected some speed.’
O’Brien was cautious about Coolangatta, pointing out the Blues are ahead of his side on the ladder and also recalling last year when the Blues won the south Coast derby in a significant upset.
O’Brien hinted he may play one or two of his teenagers on Akermanis – to give the youngsters the opportunity to run with a premiership-winning Brownlow Medallist who is just one season out of the AFL system.
“It will certainly be a chance for them to learn a few things about how it’s done,” said O’Brien.
Burleigh v Sandgate
At Bill Godfrey Oval, 2pm Saturday
IT looks like being a tall order for the Burleigh Bombers when they tackle Sandgate with a serious height deficiency.
Coach Zane Doubleday has revealed veteran John Chenhall, one of only a handful of back-up ruckmen, will miss the Hawks engagement because of work, leaving lion-hearted Mick Van Rossum as sole big man in the team.
The lack of height, against a big side such as Sandgate, could be fatal for the Bombers, who desperately need to win to stay in the hunt for a finals berth.
Burleigh have also lost on-baller Beau Davies (work in Melbourne for a month), Ben Sullivan (groin) and Justin Allen (ankle).
Key midfielder Matt O’Brien is back, along with Josh O’Connell (up from the under-18s), club games record-holder Aaron Pianta and Mitch Wren from reserves.
Wren is a back-up for Van Rossum.
height aside, Doubleday is demanding more consistency from his charges.
“For us it is trying to get a consistent, four-quarter performance,” he said. “To date we’ve played a good quarter or a good 20 minutes.
“But we need d to play our good quarters against a side like Sandgate.”
Despite the problems at Burleigh, Sandgate captain-coach Ben Long is taking nothing for granted.
“I think they’re just about due,” said Long. “It’s getting to the stage of the season where if they don’t start winning playing in the finals may be out of the question.”
The Hawks, sitting equal second on the ladder, have thr4ee changes.
Star defender Aaron Fabian is out with a knee injury, but the good news on the centre half-back is that his injury is nowhere as bad as was first feared and he may miss only a couple of weeks.
Also out this weekend are Scott Hines (twisted bowel) and David Fellowes (omitted).
The ins are big Stephen Forbes, utility Adam Fry (ex-Aspley) and small forward Kayne Nund, a former Windsor-Zillmere player selected for his Sandgate seniors debut.
Springwood v Noosa
At Lowe Oval, 2pm Saturday
SPRINGWOOD will have to do without inspirational captain and rover Shane Murrihy for at least a month, maybe longer.
The battling Pumas, who face up to the power of Noosa on Saturday, have been rocked by the news on Murrihy, one of the few genuinely experienced and class players at the club.
Also out for the weekend is ruckman/forward Blake Wallis, who has hip problems.
To cover for their losses, the Pumas promoted Josh Mitchell and also named another 18-year-old first-gamer Alex McDonald.
But the fight is still there, said coach Paul Opbroek.
“It’s going to be good to see where we’re at, against last year’s premiers who are coming off a loss,” he said.
“But we’re up for the challenge. We’re looking forward to it.”
Noosa, stung by their home loss to Wilston-Grange last weekend, have earned the wrath of coach Wayne Fletcher, who was disappointed for his side to concede eight final-term goals against the grange.
“Obviously that was pretty disappointing,” said Fletcher. “Our ball use and decision-making was not up to par.
“But there was a lot more inte4nsity at training this and I feel we’re back on track.
Noosa have two changes. The Tigers have brought back Ryan Sawyers for his first seniors game since the 2009 grand final and they named ruckman/forward Tim Storrer.
Out are Steve Simpson and Jack Henry.
Maroochy-Northshore v Mayne
At Fisherman’s Road, 2pm Saturday
BATTLING Maroochy-Northshore have run into further injury strife, losing key pair James Page and Jesse Goldfinch just a week after the pair made returns from the sick bay.
Page and Goldfinch are among up to six changes the Roos will be forced to cover for the clash against Mayne, themselves not exactly humming along as far as injuries go.
Delaney said the Roos are running on the smell of an oily rag at the moment, their playing stock so badly depleted and with depth tested to the extreme.
“This is a game we could win, but it’d be nice to have a full team,” said Delaney. “Still, the guys are in good spirits.”
Mayne, thrashed by Palm Beach-Currumbin last round, will be much better this time, said player-coach Luke Faulkner.
The Tigers have a number of changes, including the selection of former Redland and PBC utility Scott Vimpany. Other new faces are Damien Doolan.
“But we’re still missing some key defenders and midfielders, so hopefully we can get over the line,” said Faulkner.
Despite a general view that this clash will go a long way to determining the fate of this year’s wooden spoon, Faulkner is not having a bar of it.
“Not at all,” he responded. “We had a dozen out last round and once we get a full side back we’ll be much more competitive, no doubt.”
For full list of the teams click here