Slice of Cheese

NPL TAS SEASON PREVIEW PART I: Players To Watch

As we approach the 2019 NPL TAS season kick off, here is part 1 of the 3 part season preview, with 9 players to watch, one from each of the nine clubs competing in the league this year.

Clarence- Jake French

French has made the switch over to Clarence in search of first team football, having played understudy to Sheku Kamara at Zebras last season. The youngster was only afforded a couple of starts, but produced the goalkeeping performance of the NPL Season away to Devonport in one of those starts. His stunning display against the Strikers saw him almost single-handedly keep his side in the game and showed the potential he has. A National Junior Futsal representative, whilst he still has some areas to work on, his reflexes and shot stopping are superb, and he should be an asset for the Reds in net.

Devonport Strikers- Todd Hingston

One of the most talented and toughest players in the State, Hingston appears set to play a prominent role for the Strikers in 2019 after not featuring in the top flight in recent seasons. A five time winner of the George Dale Medal, most recently coming in 2017 when he polled 23 votes in just 10 games, there is simply no denying the quality of the man barring a more than partial resemblance to King Leonidas. He plays like a Spartan too, and mixes that toughness with good decision making and sharp passing. The Strikers are all too aware of his class, having seen what he could do in the FFA Cup back in 2016.

Hingston in FFA Cup action- Solstice Photography

Glenorchy Knights- Callum Brown

Over the past couple of seasons, the 2018 Vic Tuting medallist has proven himself one of the best and most exciting players in the state. Now he gets his chance to show it on a weekly basis by proving it in the NPL. The tricky winger has bags of pace, plenty of skill and an eye for goal, scoring some 32 goals in 24 games across all competitions last year. Brown is ready to take the league by storm and looms as the key man in attack for the newly promoted Glenorchy Knights.

Hobart Zebras- Matthew Pace

The departure of Jakub Sklenar should provide opportunities for a man whose name describes one of his biggest assets. The fleet footed attacker was starved of NPL TAS starting opportunities in 2018 but made his mark in the Challenge League where he scored some 25 times and polled 21 votes to claim the league’s Best and Fairest award. Pace is a young player of considerable promise who can be used both centrally or out wide and is going to be an important weapon for the Zebras this season.

Kingborough Lions- Chris Downes

The best set piece specialist in the state, Downes ability over the dead ball is simply unparalleled across the league. Having only played around half of his sides games in 2018, and about the same the season prior at Zebras, the Lions will be hoping desperately that Downes is on the pitch more often in 2019.  If he can string together a full season, he has the creative talent to really drive the Lions and provide the attacking output they struggled to find at times in the 2018 season.

Solstice Photography

Launceston City- Noah Mies

With Tyler Fischer departing the State, a lot of Launceston City’s goal scoring responsibility is set to be shouldered by the 2017 Rising Star Noah Mies. Having broken out to score 15 goals last season, City will now look for their prodigious youngster to continue to improve upon that tally this year. His combination of strength, skill and finishing ability make him well suited to the role as the main man in attack leading the line, but it will be tougher sledding for him this year, with Fischer’s absence set to shift more of the opposing defensive attention onto the 20 year old.

Olympia Warriors- Jack Ryan

The Warriors English striker has lit up the preseason action for the Warriors scoring goals a plenty and looms as one of the favourites for the Golden Boot in 2019. He scored all four goals in a 4-2 win over South Hobart and has scored in every game against local opposition so far. Intelligent with his runs off the ball, strong in the air and possessing a cannon of a shot, Ryan looms as a match winner up top for the Warriors and the replacement they never really found in 2017 for Jakub Sklenar’s goals.

Riverside- Aaron Campbell 

Launceston City’s NPL TAS record games holder and a two time Peter Savill medallist has made the switch back to his junior club for their return to the top flight. And Campbell will be a vital piece for the Roos, instantly bolstering the squad with NPL experience, having been a staple of the City side over the past 5 years. He is a versatile player capable of playing in numerous positions, having been deployed in attack, or as a wing-back in recent times. Campbell will set the tone for his side with his work rate and his ability to get in behind defensive lines will be important to Riverside’s attacking output.

South Hobart- Alex Leszczynski

After a rotten run with injury, Alex Leszczynski has returned looking trimmer and fitter than ever for South Hobart’s preseason action. The powerful striker who has missed the majority of the past 2 seasons, looks primed to make an impact upon his return this year. Having scored 19 times in 18 games in 2016, the last time he was fit for a season, there is no doubting his quality and he will be a welcome addition to the South Hobart squad this year. His ability to act as a target man and slice defences with well placed diagonal balls make him crucial to their plans.

NPL TASMANIA SEASON PREVIEW

PART 1- Payers to Watch

PART 2- The Burning Questions 

PART 3- The Crystal Ball- Coming Friday