Grafton Tigers coach Adi Campbell is looking forward to the start of the season. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner
Grafton Tigers coach Adi Campbell is looking forward to the start of the season. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner Jojo Newby

Campbell has Tigers sharpening their claws again

AFTER assurances he would hang up the clipboard at the end of the 2013 AFL North Coast season, Adi Campbell has found himself thrust back into the coaching spotlight.

An exhaustive search by the Grafton Tigers to find a replacement for Campbell uncovered a handful of suitable applicants but circumstances prevented any of those from taking on the task of steering the Tigers back to the top.

The club's search for a new coach was brought to a close three weeks ago when Campbell agreed to again coach the team he led to back-to-back premierships (2011-12).

"I reckon they didn't really look for anyone so I'd come back," Campbell said with more than a hint of sarcasm.

"Seriously, I'm out of work for six months with a back injury and it sort of gives me something to do.

"I didn't want to see the guys go without a coach either.

"They approached me about three weeks ago and I decided I would give it a go."

Campbell is the first to admit the Tigers' preparations have not gone as planned, with only an average of 25 players regularly attending training nights.

He was however quick to point out the positives, revealing the return of grand final winners Dan Zacek and Lee Anderson and the performance of those at training indicated the Tigers could be in for a season with healthy reward.

Zacek was one of the Tigers' early targets for the coaching position but had to decline due to work commitments.

"They both had a year off but they're back and ready to go," Campbell said.

"We have lost a fair few players though. Some have moved away for work, others have gone up to the Gold Coast for uni and stuff like that.

"We should be sweet to field a strong first-grade side but reserve grade are struggling for numbers.

"They usually come out of the woodwork on game day so we'll see how we go there."

The 2014 AFL North Coast season will comprise six teams with the admission of Camden Haven to first grade.

TIGERS GAMES TO WATCH IN 2014
Season Opener
April 5 v Port Macquarie Magpies at Ellem Oval
Big Improvers:
April 12 v Coffs Swans at Ellem Oval
Contenders?
April 26 v North Coffs at Stadium Drive
New Kids on the Block
May 3 v Camden Haven at South Kempsey
Premiership Rivals
May 10 v Sawtell/Toormina Saints at Ellem Oval



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