MIND GAMES: Tigers restructured, ready to launch into season
AUSSIE RULES: Grafton Tigers captain-coach Chris Curthoys has one simple answer when you ask about his side ahead of this weekend's season opener against Coffs Breakers.
"We are ready.”
But scratch the surface and it is not quite as simple for the leader.
AFL North Coast threw a spanner in the works this week after it altered the structure of the seniors competition to be a 16-man game, dropping two players from each playing side.
It has flipped the script for Curthoys, who in a scramble has had to rethink many of the structures and game plans that he had drawn up.
It has also left him with a headache as he now has too many players on his hands.
"We have a fair few missing out on game time because the numbers are just that good,” he said.
Curthoys has brought a new style of coaching with him from Brisbane, and he said most of the players had jumped on board.
"It is more about game plays and defensive structures, not just about going on to the field and having a game of footy,” he said.
"This change in structure of the game really hasn't helped though. I think it is the biggest mistake they will make.
"We have less people playing footy, and suddenly you have to drop two positions from the field.
"You can't drop a wing because it changes where all your other players are, but you also can't drop a defender or a forward.”
Curthoys admitted it will be a case of trial and error as the season wears on.
"Who we take out is likely going to change each week,” he said. "This weekend will act as a bit of a trial for us.
"It is not about results, it is all about pressure and forming a base to build on.”
The new coach said he had been particularly impressed with the young Tigers who have stepped up from the 2017 premiership-winning Under-18s outfit.
"There have been a few of those young blokes who have just been extraordinary in the pre-season,” Curthoys said.
"(Evan) 'Bomber' Whitty, who is in the Swans Academy, is likely to play every game with us this season. He has just been unreal. I'm also hoping to get him games in Brisbane.”
The Tigers meet the Breakers at Fitzroy Oval at 2pm.