WATCH: It's a season of promise for BITS and Mudcrabs
AUSSIE RULES: It's back. The Australian version of football greets players and fans from Gladstone Mudcrabs and BITS Saints in round one of the AFL Capricornia competition.
Rebuilding Muddies and the Saints' A-grade teams will have a new-look edge as they face Rockhampton Panthers and Brothers at Clinton and Kele Park at 5.30pm and 2.30pm respectively today.
BITS' player-coach Jake Mostert said the arrival of midfield guns Brock Rothe (Echunga), Danny Conway (Wilston Grange) and ex-Mudcrabs' Sam Schofield offsets the departure of Ben Dempsey (Morningside Panthers) and Kane Haua to the Gold Coast Suns Academy.
The club has also secured the services of forwards Sam Pierpoint form Maroochydore Football Club and agile tall Grady Gill who has returned after a year off due to work commitments.
Mark Jensen also has made the move to BITS from Gladstone Mudcrabs and will add valuable experience in defence.
"I think there's going to be a lot of exposure to A-grade and so we're looking to build the knowledge and ability of everyone in the club," Mostert said.
The playing coach has been impressed with the new additions.
"Danny Conway will be real handy and he's super fit and has got good skills," he said.
"Sam Pierpoint has got plenty of skills based on what I have seen at training and with his big body to throw around which will be awesome."
Mostert added Gill will provide dash and kicking penetration and has pace to burn.
As for which team will be the big improvers?
Mostert predicted Glenmore Bulls, after a summer of new signings, to be strong contenders for the top four, something Gladstone Mudcrabs' coach Aaron Barrett also agrees with.
"Yeppoon are still the team to beat and they've set the bar high and it will take a good team to knock them off. From all reports Glenmore are travelling really well and could be the big improver this season," he said.
Muddies have lost forwards Steve Eilola (Labrador) and Zac Jahn and the aforementioned Schofield and Jensen, but there is still talent aplenty in the squad.
"We have had a number of changes to the side but are confident the boys will hit the ground running Saturday," Barrett said.
"We have had a solid pre season overall but we are definitely excited that round one is here."
Trey Dummett will lead the ruck and have stints as a key forward after a promising 2017, midfielder Steven Grogan had an outstanding 2017 season while Brandon Gilchrist and Emrys Walker are dashing defenders off halfback.
Barrett expects Dummett, Jamie Hill, Hayden Barker and Peter Hill step up to the next level on the back of a big pre-season.
Keep up to date with live scores on the AFL Capricornia SportingPulse website.
Muddies v Panthers
U13: 10am; U15: 11.10am; U17: 12.30pm; Res: 2pm; W: 4.15pm; A-gde: 5.30pm
Brothers v Saints
U13: 8.30am; U15: 9.40am; U17: 11am; Res: 12.30pm; A-gde: 2.30pm; W: 5pm
The key to success is to have players having the ability to play in a variety of positions.
The transient nature of Gladstone and surrounds guarantees some players not being available from week to week.
"Guys will need to transition in and out of different positions so we need to build that knowledge throughout the year," BITS Saints playing coach Jake Mostert said.
"Our goal is to go 'yep, people are away but we can fill those positions because we have been working on X, Y and Z at training and we have personnel who can fill those roles."
Skilful midfielder Brock Rothe looks forward to what he can bring to the table this afternoon and beyond.
"I look forward to have fun with the boys, enjoy the footy, have a good run on the wing and am keen," he said.
He also has had NTFL experience in Darwin and said he'll be well used to similarly humid conditions here.
Defender Mark Jensen also played high-level footy in Tasmania and said he'll provide leadership and experience.
Sam Schofield has been a prolific ball-winner for Gladstone in recent seasons and aims to bring this to his new club.
"I'm going to bring hardness at the ball, second efforts and leadership," he said.
It's with one eye with a focus on the finals and the other set for a solid foundation in the future.
That's the motto at the Gladstone Mudcrabs Football Club.
Players such as Jamie Hill and Trey Dummett could set the platform for the A-grade side moving forward and what better way to start today against Rockhampton Panthers - another club with young talent.
"We have got a lot of new faces who will help the boys out," Muddies' halfback flanker Steven Franklin said.
"In general they have been good across the board."
Hill led the under-17 competition with 85 goals and Franklin is excited what he can deliver.
"Lochie Carlson is another who is a forward-ruck and can jump as well," Franklin said.
"That's the way to go is to bring the young players up."
Tim Bolch has made the move north from Pearcedale in Victoria and is a breakfast radio announcer with HIT CQ.
"He's a fit and strongly-built fella and we have had good numbers in the juniors and it should be a good season ahead," Franklin said.
He is also from an Aussie Rules state South Australia before he moved to the region for work four years ago.
From the southern suburbs of Adelaide, Franklin also played some junior football with South Adelaide in the SANFL competition.