Sutherland Sharks are aiming to replace pragmatism with flair in 2016.
The Sharks could only manage a 10th place finish last season and finished six points off the top six and finals.
A slow start with just one win from their first six games put Steve O’Connor’s Sharks on the back-foot, but a 6-1 win over the Rockdale City Suns – who did make the top six – proved the potential that does exist within the squad.
New coach Carlos Villazon has been tasked with unlocking that potential on a regular basis and he is hoping that an early start to pre-season will hold the club in good stead.
“Last season was completely different because we started late and we missed opportunities to get players,” Villazon said.
“We started earlier this season and the squad was chosen before Christmas.
“I’m very happy because I’ve combined experience with young players and the mix is very good.
“I think the team understands how we want to play this season and everyone is following the structure.”
Villazon said he is targeting at least 13 wins and three draws in 2016, compared to the seven wins and three draws the Sharks achieved in 2015.
“For me it is important to lift a trophy, whatever that might be,” Villazon said.
“I’m not training for nothing. I need to be on top.”
Stephen Kayes, Josh Da Silva and Jack Press are among the new players in the team, while the club has also added two Japanese imports in Takuya Murayama and Tomohiro Kajiyama.
Villazon will hope that the additions complement the existing squad nicely as the Sharks target rapid improvement.
Player to watch: Tomohiro Kajiyam
The Japanese import has impressed in his two pre-season hit-outs.
“He plays right midfield, he’s quick and all the time he is looking for goals,” Villazon said.
“For me, it’s really important to have that. Sometimes you have good players but when they get opportunities to score, they can’t, but this guy is really determined to score goals.”
Squad: Nathan Denham, Takuya Murayama, Stephen Kayes, Nick Littler , Matthew Gordon, Jack Press, Chris McStay, Jordan Figon, Joshua Da Silva, Alex Jovovic, Lukas Stergiou, Jeremy Cox, Patrick O’Shea, Perry Moustakas, Andres Gomez, James Andrew, Jarrod Benham, Callum Fitzpatrick, Mitchell Farmer, Niki Loe, Steve Hayes, Tomohiro Kajiyama, Luke Kairies