Unknown times ahead as Storm prepare to work from a clean slate
There have been plenty of changes afoot in the off-season which have left Northern Storm co-coach Craig Caruana with a clean slate to work from in 2022.
They will start the season with a whole new team after a large portion of the 2021 squad reverted to playing in the local second-division competition.
Just what they can deliver on the pitch with their new side remains to be seen.
While the coach is setting the bar low, he’s also excited about what’s ahead for the club.
“We’ll go out there to give it a bit of a shake and see if we can rattle a few cages,” he said.
“It’s something that’s been forced on us, but you can’t dwell on it and while it’s disappointing to lose hundreds of games of experience at that level, that’s football.”
While there is disappointment there is also excitement about the opportunities that have been presented to the Storm’s next generation.
“It’s a new era for the club and we’ve got a very strong junior base so hopefully this year will be about moulding a team that’s going to be competitive this year and then over the next few years,” Caruana said.
The coach knows the fresh start will almost certainly result in a slow start to the competition. He doesn’t even know what his best side is or where each individual player is best suited.
“The biggest aim for us will be to go out every single week, be competitive, be organised, be committed and make sure that every time we go into a game that at the end of it the opposition knows they’ve been in a game,” he said.
“The worst thing is when you’re trying these things you lack a little bit of cohesion and that transfers into effort. One thing we can guarantee this season is that our effort is going to be there every week.”
Caruana is content to not set any pre-season goals and see how the first half of the competition progresses before he issues any challenges to his squad.
“We don’t want to be unrealistic about our goals (because) we’re probably a fair way off the top end of the competition,” he said.
“If we can finish in the top half we’ll be very pleased with that. I don’t think we can set anything above that because we don’t really know what we’ve got.”
The new-look Storm will certainly have some decent-sized boots to fill with last year’s squad competitive in all-but a handful of games.
“We had a pretty successful team last season and there was only one game we weren’t really in, but every other game we either held the lead or were level,” Caruana said.
“We were third at one stage and going alright and lost our way a little bit. In all but three games all season we were either leading or level with 15 minutes to go in games.
“We lost games in the back end so it was a bit concerning, but that’s football, you’ve got to play for 90 minutes.”