Friday 1 April 2011

Injury concerns over three top forwards have added a further element of mystery to the opening round of the brand new North East Australian Football League tomorrow and Sunday.

Labrador ace Tim Notting, Southport’s Ray Hughson Medallist Cleve Hughes and gun Broadbeach recruit Jason Eagle have all played little game time through the pre-season.

Last year’s QAFL grand finalists Labrador host Redland at Cooke-Murphy Oval tomorrow, where highly-rated Warragul midfielder Ryan Davey will add extra bite to the already classy Tigers midfield.

While Notting is no certainty to line up in front of goal, Redland are hoping Swan Districts recruit Josh Pullman will add some firepower to their goalsquare and capitalize on the presence of Travis Johnstone, Anthony Corrie and Brad Howard in the midfield.

Hughes has endured ongoing problems with his ankle since injuring it midway through last year and will be a huge loss if he doesn’t play against Broadbeach at H&A Oval on Sunday.

Southport vice-captain Glenn Screech, who plays his 100th game for the Sharks tomorrow, is under no illusions how tough the competition will be.

“Everyone has recruited and will be a lot stronger, which will even out the competition,” Screech said. “Broadbeach have recruited heavily and it will be a good challenge – the local derbies always are.”

Eagle, who kicked 80.80 for Redland two years ago, has played just a half of an intraclub practice match at his new club.

Former AFL star Andrew McLeod enjoyed playing so much for the Northern Territory last weekend in the national Foxtel Cup knockout competition that he will back up tomorrow night for the Thunder against Aspley in Darwin.

Heavy rain will make for tough conditions and will take away some of the Thunder’s free-running advantage.

The Gold Coast Suns Reserves make their debut against Mt Gravatt at Broadbeach in the early game (12.30pm) on the Gold Coast tomorrow, while the Brisbane Lions tackle the last QAFL premiers Morningside at Esplen Oval on Sunday.

Teams for Round 1 posted shortly.

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