CANBERRA Demons coach Kade Klemke is looking forward to the opportunity to showcase the club’s Riverina talent at Robertson Oval on Saturday.
The Demons will again bring a North Eastern Australian Football League (NEAFL) home game to Wagga when they take on Greater Western Sydney’s reserves.
While a lot of eyes will be on what Riverina-bred Giants players will make the trip to Wagga, the Demons will have no shortage of home-grown talent.
Klemke, who hails from Henty, will be joined by Leeton pair Lucas Meline and Mitch Hardie, Coolamon’s Nick Pleming, Ariah Park’s Mitch Maguire and Temora’s Jack Turner in the Demons’ team.
Klemke said the return to the Riverina means a lot to not just the players, but the Demons organisation.
“We’re really excited, we see Canberra Demons as not just a representative side of Canberra but of Southern NSW and the Riverina as well,” Klemke said.
“We’ll have six guys playing from the Riverina so we’re really excited to get back there, where we’ll probably have a lot of support with our families being there.
“We’re really excited about playing and hopefully we can get a win.”
The Demons are serious about providing a pathway to higher levels of football for talented Riverina footballers.
They are also serious about their relationship with the region and will host a footy clinic and coach’s forum at Robertson Oval on Friday night.
Klemke said the NEAFL is now a legitimate option for AFL hopefuls from the Riverina.
“The most mature age selctions now out of all the state leagues come from the NEAFL,” he said.
“The opportunities now are far greater playing for Canberra Demons than going and playing in the VFL.”
Klemke is in his first season as coach of the Demons after five years at Queanbeyan.
He said Maguire, Meline and Hardie had really impressed him.
“Mitch Maguire’s had a really good year for his first year,” he said.
“He’s averaging 21-22 disposals a game and would be one of the favourites for the Rising Star this year.
“Lucas Meline has been consistent across half-back, while Mitch Hardie has really surprised me. He’s been really good across half-forward.”
Friday night’s clinic is open to kids aged between six and 16 and starts at 6.30pm. It will show the older kids how training is conducted at state league level, while for the younger kids it will involve a lot of skills drills.
The coaches forum will also be held at 6.30pm at Robertson Oval.
The game against the Giants starts at midday on Saturday. It is a must-win for the Demons if they want to keep their finals hopes alive.