QAFL litmus tests loom

By Beth Newman

It’s two weeks until the 2014 QAFL kicks off, and the pre-season has thrown up more questions than answers.

Coaches have steered away from brash statements, aware of the unknowns in a newly formed competition, but generally projecting a summery optimism.

This weekend teams will have their first dress rehearsal for the QAFL season on Saturday, as we see the clubs encounter their first official practice matches.

No doubt there will still be plenty of speculation and no more certainty by Sunday night, but there are plenty of things that could be revealed this weekend.

With only two official hit-outs before Round 1, teams will be fielding close to their strongest sides, debuting new recruits.

With only Wilston Grange and UQ having played in the same competition in 2013 as this year, these matches could provide an early indicator for clubs as to where they sit in the QAFL pecking order.

Every team is playing for the first time this year, and here are the key things to look for in each match up.

Palm Beach v Broadbeach – 12:00pm Cooke-Murphy Oval

The 2013 Div 1 premiers have trimmed down significantly this season, in preparation for the harder running required on bigger grounds. Against Broadbeach, a young side with plenty of raw talent, that fitness will be tested. After towelling up a Cairns side a fortnight ago, the Lions are feeling positive but they will certainly face a bigger challenge against the Cats.
Broadbeach look different to 2013 and with a new coach will have a vastly different approach. With a focus on skills, practice matches are where they will get the bulk of their contested work ahead of round 1, and the Lions, with a number of strong key position players, will take it up to the young Cats.

Labrador v Surfers Paradise –2:00pm  Cooke-Murphy Oval

Surfers Paradise has a pre-season draw that could see them sending a message to the rest of the competition. A mid-table side last year, the Demons struggled with consistency and will play a more defensive style this year, and are keen to set the tone early. With a match against Morningside to follow, and a round one test against Palm Beach, the Tigers will be able to show them where they’re at.
It’s hard to know what to expect with Labrador, who are keen to talk down the hype that plenty have flung on them, with their new recruits. With only four 2013 Tigers in their side that took on the SUNS Academy in their last pre-season hit-out, the only certainty from this side is that there will not be 30 familiar faces running out on Saturday.

Wilston Grange vs. UQ

It is still only pre-season, but this game probably has the most riding on it. Grange are in a similar situation to the Demons, as they need to make an impression from the get go. Injuries killed them last year, but they’re fit and ready to go this year.

UQ, as well, is looking to show its improvement. They showed competitive potential last season and have brought in a far greater number of new recruits compared to this time last year. There are few expectations on the Red Lions this year but after a disappointing scratch match against Mayne last weekend, they do need to show they have gone up a notch, even though there are no premiership points on offer.

Sandgate vs. Morningside

Sandgate has taken a similar pre-season path to Surfers Paradise, with matches against the Panthers and Labrador.They were renowned for their fight last year and that attitude, with a year of extra experience in the group, will probably emerge against the Panthers.

The Panthers’ biggest Achilles heel will be any complacency. They are simultaneously under the most, and least, pressure this pre-season. While there’s still two weeks to go, their performance will be highly anticipated and closely watched.

Mt Gravatt vs. Western Magpies

This is another intriguing pre-season match up, between two young sides. It’s no secret that Mt Gravatt is entering a new generation, and this is the first real chance for their emerging senior players to prove themselves. The Magpies have also undergone a regeneration of sorts on and off the field, with retirements, new coaching appointments and board reshuffling.

Any discussion on pre-season obviously has to come with the slight caveat that it is not yet round one, but a fortnight out from the real deal, these games will go pretty close.

Like the official QAFL Facebook page here.

Follow the QAFL on Twitter here.

Follow Beth on Twitter here.

Our Supporters