The Canberra Demons have put faith in their young stars to step up in season 2020 as they prepare for their first practice matches next month.
The Demons have lost NEAFL games record holder and former captain of the club Aaron Bruce (retired) and fellow leader Tom Highmore (South Adelaide, SANFL) this off-season.
With a new captain set to be appointed this year, coach Kade Klemke says it’s a team effort to fill the holes left by their former stars.
“Aaron’s a big loss, not just as a player but his leadership is the big loss for us,” he told neafl.com.au.
“It’s probably everyone stepping up as leaders and the leaders we already have, seeing them take a bit more ownership.
“We need to see those guys stepping up and filling that void.
“That’s what you hope to see and there are some guys that have stepped up into those roles and I’m looking forward to seeing them lead this year.”
The Demons have bought in a number of talented players to cover for their departed, including North Adelaide’s Jared Deep alongside Leyton Chisolm (Bendigo Pioneers) and George Kendall (Mangoplah), who have both impressed their new coach.
“I think there’s a couple of guys that should be exciting and one of those players is Leyton Chisolm,” Klemke said.
“He looks like he’s fitting in really well, he could play that half back role.
“George Kendall is another one that looks like he has got a great future ahead of him, he’s played a lot of country footy and a lot of GIANTS Academy.
“He’s a really good size and speed and we’re looking for him to have a bit of an impact as well this year.”
NEAFL Rising Star winner and MVP runner-up Angus Baker might also be having a change of role.
After a breakout year in 2019, the Demons will be looking to utilise his clean skill and decision making further up the ground.
“Angus is someone that’s got so much more development to go, it’s amazing to think that,” Klemke said.
“He’s obviously very disappointed by not getting drafted last year, but his window is not closed and we’re looking to develop his game a bit more and we’re looking to throw him a bit more in the midfield.”
Canberra made a dream run to a maiden Preliminary Final berth in 2018 but slipped out of the finals last year.
The Demons travel to Sydney to face the GIANTS on March 7 to kick-start their preparations for a new season.
Klemke says he wants the club to continue playing their exciting brand of football.
“I just want to see us play a great team brand of footy that people will come and enjoy and watch,” he said.
“We have been working a lot more on our defence as well, but I still want our attacking game to be the key to us and be an enjoyable team to watch.”
You can see the full practice match schedule here.
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