Pride coach: "We’ve never been stronger"

Friday 9 March 2012

Pride coach: "We’ve never been stronger"

Northern Pride coach Dave Maiden says he has never had a stronger squad as he prepares his side for their first Intrust Super Cup game of the season against Ipswich Jets on Saturday night.

The Pride face a powerful Jets side at Barlow Park, but Maiden said his side couldn’t be more prepared.

“We’ve been training and ripping into each since mid-November, and at last we’re getting our first chance to play competitive football,” said Maiden.

“We’ve got a very strong side. I could substitute any of the first-team this week with guys who have been training with us, and they’d do their job.

“It’s been a very difficult task to whittle it down to 17 but the guys that are there are ready to go. There are a few regular guys missing from the starting line-up, which is an indication
of the extreme depth we have this year.

“As a coach it’s a great position to be in, as a player it’s not so nice but the players understand the situation.”

Last season’s regulars Mark Dalle Cort, Alex Starmer and Chey Bird (injured) all miss out this week.

“I’ve got a few guys who would get into any Intrust Super Cup side in the competition but that isn’t the case this weekend. But they’ll all get their opportunity, sooner rather than later,” said Maiden.

Despite his side’s strength in depth, Maiden isn’t underestimating the Jets, who the Pride beat 30-6 in a finals clash at Barlow Park last season.

“Jets are always a tough game, and they always come up here looking to rip in, and I know this is one game they target to try and get a win.

“Obviously with it being the first game of the season, they’ll be trying to do the same thing again.”

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Maiden said the Jets have strengthened in the off-season, making them an even tougher proposition.

“They’ve picked up a couple of good off-season buys,” he said. “Javarn White is a very dangerous player who came across from Norths, and is the current Intrust Super Cup player of the year.

“We did knock them out in the finals last year, so there will be a bit of feeling in this one, but for our guys, this is a new season, and we’ve got to get off to a good start.

“This week will be a great test as to how we’ve gone in the off-season.”

Maiden also called for Pride fans to come to Saturday’s game and support their local heroes.

“The home crowd is crucial to our success,” said Maiden. “It’s a big bonus for us, because as long as we can get the crowd to be vocal, the guys know that this is their home and we want the opposition teams to feel uncomfortable when they’re here.

“We’ve got a good record at home, so we’re hoping that will continue this weekend. We want to see a lot of people down to support the boys.”

The Pride's Academy U16 and U18s also play on Saturday against the Townsville Stingers who have a number of former Pride players.

Gates open at 1.30pm on Saturday, with the Pride Academy U16 (2.15pm) and U18 (3.30pm) sides playing the Townsville Stingers, before the big kick-off at 5.30pm when the Pride take on the Jets.