Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend
The Panthers will be looking to claw their way back into the finals hunt in 2023 after a disappointing 2022 season.
The team started the year with a challenging 102-point loss at home against the might of the Sharks and it kick-started a difficult losing streak against quality opposition and they couldn’t build momentum.
Losses to the Lions and Gorillas in consecutive weeks put the brakes on any major momentum; however, its Round Six loss to Broadbeach, by 50-points, showed that there was some fight in this group. The margin blew out in the second half, but it was one of the most promising efforts by this group against the premiership favourites.
Following the loss to the Cats, it was of no surprise that Morningside tasted victory in its next match when it took down Mt Gravatt. A 64-point demolition of the Lions later in the year on the road was stamped by one of the best individual performances of the year with Keegan Downie kicking nine goals.
The result continued a string of solid performances on the road with a four-point win over Noosa and a brave 19-point loss to the Sharks in Round 13, a match where it led at three-quarter time. Finals looked a chance.
It was tough for the team that ended the season as it started with some challenging performances and losses to quality teams. Losing to Sherwood twice in three weeks, hurt.
With that said, it was a season that put good games and big roles into younger players with the foundations being built nicely in the lead up to a promising 2023 season.
Morningside will be led by new coach Paul Egan who was assistant to outgoing coach Clint Watts. Egan has a great coaching pedigree where he has been an assistant in the NEAFL from 2014 to 2017 and has a proud and decorated junior and senior playing career at the club. He lives and breathes this club and is the ideal front man to lead this group into the 2023 season.
Egan will be well supported by Tom Williams, Ben Lloyd, Wylie Buzza and Matt Battams. Buzza’s match day commitments will depend on his VFL playing commitments with the Brisbane Lions.
Sam Godfrey will lead the club as captain.
The club welcomes back Jimmy Cowlinshaw from injury and recently retired Brisbane and Carlton utility Mitch Robinson will line up for the Panthers and ignite invaluable spark within the team; and also put more external eyeballs on the club.
Young forward Nathan Colenso is a key out for the club having joined Williamstown in the VFL in the off-season, while Jake Chapman is another key departure.
The club boast some talented X Factors and it’s fair to say that Ryan Dadds and Kelly Castle will fight gallantly to earn that title for the team.
As for the Colts to look out for; we could see some exciting development in that space.
“The opportunity is open for all of them,” Paul Egan says.
As for expectations for the new season, time will tell for the new Senior coach.
“It’s the start of a new journey and who knows where the destination will be,” Paul Egan says.
As for players to watch from the opposition Egan cites Jacob Townsend from Broadbeach and Jack Rolls from Redland Victoria Point.
Fixture rating based on 2022 final Home and Away standings
5, 7, 2, 1, 3, 6, 12, 9, 5, 10, 8, 11, 1, 6, 2, 3, 12, 10 = 111
Make no mistake, there is not a single game in the QAFL that is going to be an easy one with everyone starting on the same page when the first ball is bounced this weekend.
However, the fate of the new season for the Panthers under new head coach Paul Egan is well and truly in the palm of their hands and inside the first six weeks. The only team it faces in the top six over this stretch is Noosa before it fronts Broadbeach in its seventh outing.
The clash with the reigning Grand Finalists is massive for the Panthers who will be hoping to have secured a minimum of 50-percent strike rate in the first six games.
Eight games are played against teams inside the top six from 2022 and if finals is a possibility, and it most definitely is; they need to have that spot sewn up two weeks before they take place with Broadbeach and Redland Victoria Point awaiting. The first game against Wilston Grange could be a gate-way into how the 2023 will be for the team at Jack Esplen Oval, and they will need to come out with all guns blazing.
The addition of Mitch Robinson to the team is a massive boost for the group and the morale of the club.
If you’re a fan of the Panthers, I’d be genuinely optimistic that this team has what it takes to make its way back into finals contention and be one of the surprise packets of the competition, a dark horse if you may; especially if it can land a major scalp or two in the middle of the season.