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Taree Wildcats 2022 CPL Preview – Campbell returns from rugby as Wildcats eye continued improvement

Taree Wildcats showed what they were capable of a handful of times in the Coastal Premier League last season.

The challenge for the Manning-based club now is to consistently perform in 2022 if they hope to put themselves in the mix for a semi-final berth.

While a top-four spot may be a bridge too far, coach Shannon Hall believes the acquisition of striker Ricky Campbell after a two-year stint with rugby could be a key ingredient.

“The focus is the same as every team – we’d like to win it. But our main aim is to try and be competitive and slip into fifth or sixth spot,” Hall said.

Scoring goals was an issue for the Wildcats in 2021, but the signing of Campbell may help them to become a more potent force in front of goal.

“Ricky played with the Wildcats before the formation of the Coastal Premier League and back then he was a gun striker who scored plenty of goals,” Hall said.

“He’s definitely going to help.”

Taree showed enough improvement in the second half of last season to provide cause for optimism about the season ahead.

Whether that proves to be enough to challenge the top sides is up for debate, but most importantly they now know how to win.

That proved to be an important lesson in the back half of 2021 – learning how to win.

“Our biggest issue last year was conceding an early goal and that was the end of it for them. They’d go to water,” Hall said.

“This year, after picking up a couple of wins, the confidence is a lot higher and they know what it takes to win at this level now. That is going to make a huge difference.”

With around 30 players registered this season the Wildcats now have more options to choose from compared to 12 months ago.

It can only help their cause.

“That competition for spots is definitely going to make a difference,” Hall said.

“Last year some weeks we were struggling to field two teams and that was running with 22 or 23 players all year so that can definitely be a driving factor this season.”

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