A year full of injuries to key players derailed the Cannonballs’ 2017 season as the circumstances forced the club into a rebuilding process with a youthful squad.
There were plenty of tough lessons delivered to the Cannonballs players and first year coaches Carl Thurgood and Matt Scott are hoping it will aid in the progress of the young players.
Thurgood, who is coaching the first grade side, claims the Cannonballs didn’t play up to their expectations in 2017, a year after reaching the grand final. However, he admits they were competitive in games when the odds were against them.
“We were in the contest for the majority of our games until the final 10-minutes despite a long list of injuries,” Thurgood said.
“We weren’t able to win many of those games but hopefully we learn from that and make smarter decisions in 2018.
“Injuries played their part in our season and we were definitely missing a few older blokes in the side which would have helped us in the important parts of the match.”
The Cannonballs are expecting Tasi Afoa, Jesse Ball, Iulio Tavete, Sam Coles and Tyler Allan, who all spent lengthy periods on the sidelines, to return next season.
Kempsey will also have two new signings with experience from across the globe to help them return to the finals series.
“We have a New Zealand prop and backline player coming over to play for us,” Thurgood said.
“They will obviously be a huge boost, especially in the forward pack.”
The Cannonballs will also have Kino Dauvucu returning from Fiji, who began to build momentum after joining the side mid-season last year.
The first grade side has plenty of potential and the top players will be fighting for positions.
Meanwhile Scott is hoping for a better all around performance from the reserve grade side.
“We often allowed points early and late in games and it cost us,” Scott said.
“I think an improved fitness will be key next year.”
The Cannonballs are still recruiting players and are preparing to begin their pre-season in January next year.