QAFL Season Preview – Labrador

Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend
After a stunning loss in the 2021 Preliminary Final at home; Labrador rolled into the 2022 season looking to take that next big step and make the premiership decider.

The quest for premiership success started perfectly when it went on a demolition to dispath of the 2021 Grand Finals Maroochydore on the road by 75-points in the dream start.

The two-point loss to Broadbeach the following week at home perhaps set the tone for things to come for the team at Cooke-Murphy Oval.
The team lost five games across the season by five-points or less; including the Elimination Final to Palm Beach Currumbin.
The Tigers beat the teams it was expected to beat; and it toppled flag contender Redland-Victoria Point by five-goals on the road in one of the most impressive efforts of the 2022 season from any travelling team; especially after going down to Aspley by 38-points the previous week to cap off a 69-point turn-around.

Labrador was the only team to genuinely challenge Broadbeach all season in its undefeated run to the Grand Final; with the loss after the siren at Subaru Oval in Round 13 culiminating in the ultimate home and away season heart-break.
What the 2022 season suggests for the southern Tigers is that they are just a few players away from winning the tight games; and or just a few minutes away from shutting down games in winnable positions against the best teams.

Back-to-back season-ending heartbreaks can be a simple fix; and this team has what it takes in 2023 to do just that.
The Tigers will be coached this season by a genuine legend of AFL in Queensland with Clint Watts taking over the reigns from outgoing Senior coach Nick Malceski who has taken a role as an assistant coach at Broadbeach.
Watts has a decorated playing career that saw him play in seven premierships for Southport and Coolangatta; and a state league representative on seven occasions including one as captain.
He has spent several seasons with Redland as an Assistant Coach in the NEAFL before he moved into the role as head coach of Morningside in 2019. Under his leadership in a COVID-interrupted season, the Panthers took home the 2020 premiership.
Needless to say, Labrador has landed a coach that knows the landscape of AFL in South East Queensland almost better than anyone.
The Tigers have welcomed Mackenzie Bristow to the club. He is former Port Melbourne and North Melbourne in the VFL; and East Fremantle the WAFL who is a key defender with great height and versatility and will compliment Lachie Henderson beautifully to form one of the strongest backlines in the QAFL.
Ben Hughes joins the team as a key forward. He has previously been on North Melbourne’s rookie list and has VFL experience with Casey. Not only can he kick goals, but he always brings quality leadership having previously held the role as playing coach for Warrugal in the Gippsland Football Netball League.
To cap off the list of quality recruits; Joel Edwards has signed as a key forward from North Shore in the Geelong Football League.
The addition of some quality height and agility to the list will benefit the squad that is filled with outstanding runners and quality midfielders.
Jayden Young and Matt Lee will take on the role of co-captains while Matt Cecchin, Tom Simpson and Nick Kempe will act as vice-captains. These five leaders cover provide quality leadership across the midfield and defense; while the addition of Hughes up forward will provide some additional leadership in the forward line.
The biggest loss for the team is Bryce Retzlaff who has retired.
Fixture rating based on 2022 final Home and Away standings
6, 10, 3, 8, 2, 12, 7, 4, 10, 6, 11, 3, 7, 1, 8, 11, 5, 12 = 118
Labrador boasts one of the most challenging draws in the QAFL this season as it plays the top three from 2022, twice and has 10 of its matches against teams that played finals.
Considering that the Southern Tigers are expected to challenge again in season 2023 under a new coaching reign; they will embrace the challenge.
The first five weeks will see the team play just two finalists from 2022; and the draw is perhaps a little more favourable in regards to not playing teams from the top three in consecutive weeks across the season and only once does it play teams that finished in the top five across back-to-back weeks.
Watts has a fiercely competitive team with a tremendous drive and leadership across all areas of the ground that will be determined to ensure this squad continues its rise as a league powerhouse. 


Our Supporters