New Sutherland Sharks coach Terry Palapanis believes he can be the man to return a winning feeling to Seymour Shaw and guide the club to their first finals appearance since 2013.
It has been a long time between drinks for the Sharks who have struggled to return to the heights of the club’s successful run at the end of last decade where they won the 2008 Premiership, 2009 Championship and 2012 Waratah Cup.
Since then it has been rebuild after rebuild for the team from the Shire.
Incoming club boss Palapanis joins the club after successful stints with St George FC and Mounties.
And he hasn’t wasted any time recruiting a squad built around a mix of youth and experience as well as a little star power.
Asian Champions League winner and former A-League star midfielder Mateo Poljak is the Sharks biggest signing and he will be tasked with solidifying the centre of the park for Palapanis’ side.
Joining him will be former Sydney FC and Perth Glory defender Marc Warren, talented young shot stopper Anthony Bouzanis as well as Spanish duo Raul Bennett-Romero and Juan Carlos Heras-Romero and former St George FC captain Tarik Ercan.
“I think the team we have has plenty of quality across the board and being able to bring in a player like Mateo is a major coup,” Palapanis said.
“He has amazing leadership skills and incredible experience having won a continental club championship.
“The other signings bring just as much to the squad. Marc Warren has A-League experience, Anthony is a brilliant shot stopper while the Spanish boys Raul and Juan Carlos should give us plenty of X-factor in the attacking third.”
However it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Palapanis as he attempts to shape his squad for the upcoming campaign.
“We’ve had two notable departures recently with Jacob Tratt signing for Sydney FC and Nick Olsen making the move to the Middle East to sign a professional deal with an Emirati club,” he said.
“That has put a little bit of a dampener on the season ahead for us but the best way to look at it is we now have space on the roster to bring in two high quality replacements.
“There were also a few boys I wanted to keep who have decided to move on but that is part and parcel of the game.
“Overall I’m pretty happy with where the club is at for this point of the preseason and hopefully we can fill up the remaining roster spots in the coming weeks.”
A professional mentality on and off the park is a cornerstone of Palapanis’ methodology and he has been quick to implement his style since taking over the top job at Seymour Shaw.
While returning the club to success is a top priority for the Sutherland’s new coach, he doesn’t want it to just be a flash in the pan.
“I have come in with a two year plan and this year it is very important to take our time to develop a winning culture both on and off the park,” Palapanis said.
“But in saying that we’re not going to take it easy and every game we will be playing to win.
“It has been a great preseason so far with everyone coming together nicely. We’re ready and firing for round one.”
Key player movements
Arrivals: Mateo Poljak (Marconi), Marc Warren (Marconi), Anthony Bouzanis (Hakoah), Jeremy Cox (Sydney FC), Raul Beneit-Romero (Mounties) Juan Carlos Heras-Romero (Mounties), Tarik Erkan (St George FC)
Departures: Jacob Tratt (Sydney FC), Nick Olsen (UAE), Ryan Norval (Hakoah), Nick Littler (Wollongong Wolves), Leroy Jennings (Blacktown City), Josh Da Silva (Rockdale CIty Suns), Hristijan Tanoski (Hakoah)
-By Nick Houghton