PHOTO: Tigers coach Kade Klemke. (Andrew Johnston/Queanbeyan Age)
The Queanbeyan Tigers enter the 2015 season with plenty of fresh faces looking to secure their spot in Canberra’s top flight football competition.
After announcing a loss of up to 40 players from their 2014 lists, the Tigers will call upon names featured in their 2014 Rising Stars premiership win in a bid to shore up their playing stocks.
An indifferent 2014 brought with it a twelfth-placed NEAFL finish and a Division One premiership, which has the Tigers relishing the chance to prove their worth in the new competition.
Returning coach Kade Klemke has acknowledged that his side will be going through a rebuilding process following the mass exodus of senior players.
“We’re pretty excited about the new competition. Obviously it’s a little bit of an unknown. We’re going to be pretty young this year. We’re going to have to try and gel well, it’s going to be a completely different side from last year.”
Despite the possibility of fielding a vastly inexperienced line-up in Round 1, Klemke is confident that the younger players can step up in an effort to secure a finals berth.
“We understand that we’ve got a lot of young guys that we need to develop, and they’re going to get their opportunity this year to play a lot of senior footy, and that’s exciting.
We want to be competitive, and I think we’ll have the side to do that and really push for a top three spot.”
The success of the lower-grade sides in 2014 is an indication of a proud culture in place at the newly renamed Allinsure Park, something Klemke is looking to instil in Queanbeyan’s top side.
Faced with the prospect of moving on or taking on the unenviable task of guiding an inexperienced side in to the unknown, Klemke chose the latter in a bid to repay the club for their service to him.
“I think that’s one thing Queanbeyan’s been known for, that culture, and ever since I stepped in to the place I’ve loved Queanbeyan.
[They] gave me the opportunity to coach at a young age, and with the club going through a struggling point I thought it was an opportunity that I could pay [the club] back.”
Klemke begins his quest to take the Tigers back to the top of the table begins with a 2014 Division One Grand Final rematch with Ainslie at Allinsure Park, a prospect that excites the former Essendon draftee.
“Ainslie look like they’re going to be very strong in the NEAFL, which I think will flow down in to their Division 1 side. We know it’s going to be a tough match, it will be great to see where we’re at.”