Souths still hungry

SOUTH AUGUSTA: Bulldogs head coach James Boles with co-captains Caleb Ritter (left) and Darcy Kildea (Right).
SOUTH AUGUSTA: Bulldogs head coach James Boles with co-captains Caleb Ritter (left) and Darcy Kildea (Right).

After claiming a third straight premiership in September, the South Augusta Football Club are heading into 2019 a very different outfit.

James Boles remains in the head coach position with his leadership group of Caleb Ritter and Darcy Kildea unchanged.

But the reigning premiers have lost key talent and experience this year, most notably 2018 Madigan Medalist Aziel Stuart.

Stuart joins Sturt Football Club in Adelaide and influential ruck-rover Billy-Jo Russell will pull on a guernsey for West Whyalla.

While the combination of Stuart and Russell will undoubtedly be felt, Boles is confident the side has enough depth to succeed in their absence.

"We just want to keep the same structures. We have lost a few key personnel but all that does is create opportunity for other players," Boles said.

"The last couple of years those young lads have had a few games but now it's really time for them to step up."

"The young guys are quite hungry to get their own premiership after watching the past few unfold," Kildea added.

Impressing early on the pre-season track are Rowan Irvine, Stefan Horner, Ronald Fuschtei and Will Bolitho.

Even with a slew of young players rising through the ranks, the key to Bulldogs' success remains on the shoulders of 2018 Ruckman of the Year, Matthew Downey.

"Matt Downey is the key. He will hopefully give us first use of the ball and our on-ball brigade will take it away from there," Boles said.

"Heading into round one we just need to stick to our systems and win."

Boles is remaining tight-lipped about new recruits, alluding to some potential late inclusions to the red and white.

"We are looking at a couple of recruits still but I can't give you names of those because they haven't signed the paper yet," he said.

"We will be around the mark, we won't be far away. If our new recruits come to fruition - we'll be not far off last year. It just all depends. We just need the jigsaw pieces to fall into place."

Bulldogs face their first challenge of the season on April 25, in an ANZAC Day clash against the much-improved West Augusta Football Club.