TAREE Wildcats coach Rob Bartley succinctly summed up his side’s preparation for the opening Football Mid North Coast Premier League game of the season on Saturday against Tuncurry-Forster at Tuncurry.
“Terrible,’’ he said.
He said the Wildcats have been unable to train on the field for five weeks as Omaru Park has been closed because of wet weather.
This has severely impacted on the team’s cohesion for the opening round.
“We’ve trained indoors and done a bit of fitness stuff on the riverbank – that’s all,’’ he said.
Further complicating the issue is the season-ending broken ankle sustained by newcomer Nathan Sommerville in the Viking Challenge at Tuncurry last month.
Bartley said Sommervile was set to play an important role for the Wildcats judging on his form in the FFA Cup win over Wallis Lake in March, where he was one of the best players on the park.
He added the Wildcats have three or four other players in some doubt for Saturday, including Jackson Witts, who is recovering from surgery. Bartley rated Witts a ‘50/50 chance.’
The Wildcats have four players aged 16 on their books and Bartley said at least two will make their first grade debut against the Tigers.
McCabe Grass has been particularly impressive in the training sessions the Wildcats have been able to complete and he looks sure to start on Saturday.
Bartley said the wet weather is going to make the first few weeks a lottery, while players away for the Groovin the Moo concert next Saturday will be another hurdle.
He expects Tuncurry-Forster to be strong, predicting they’ll be a top two contender this year.
He said things looked bright for the Wildcats after the victory over premiers Wallis Lake in the FFA Cup round. The club had a series of trial games planned leading into the season opener.
However, then the rain started and none went ahead.
“We have 28 players on our books and we’ll have two sides there on Saturday,’’ Bartley added.
“I’m just not sure who’ll be playing where yet.’’
Meanwhile this weekend’s round will mark Wauchope’s first match in the premier league for more than a decade.
The Woodchoppers will face Macleay Valley tomorrow at Wauchope.
In other first round matches Wallis Lake meet Port Saints at Port Macquarie and Kempsey Saints host Port United.
Camden Haven will sit the week out with the bye.