Collingullie-Glenfield Park coach Luke Gestier is confident the loss of ruckman Chris Jackson won’t leave a gaping hole in their premiership ambition.
Jackson has confirmed he won't be travelling down to play with the Riverina League runners-up again this season, and has been cleared to return to Newcastle City.
Gestier said the signing of big man Ben Klemke after three years at West Adelaide, as well as former Henty and Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes utility Dusty Rogers should ensure they’re well-placed.
“With Ben and Dusty, they’re both pretty good players so that will definitely hold us in good stead,” Gestier said.
Jackson won premierships with ’Gullie in 2014 and again in 2015, when he won the Ron Hutchins Medal as best-on-ground. He then had a year at Newcastle (where he won another premiership), before returning to the Crossroads last year, travelling to play.
Gestier said the Demons had known Jackson was unlikely to be able to commit to another season of commuting.
“It wasn't a surprise to us,” Gestier said.
“It was mainly the travel, it’s just hard, a seven-hour trip or whatever.
“He said he found it really hard, and even after the grand final he said to me it was harder than he expected and would probably admit it affected his form a little bit.”
The Demons have also lost key position player James Morris, as well as Matt Beckmans and Steve Jolliffe, but full-back Geoff Spriggs is on his way back to the club after a season with Marrar.
The Demons will play the Bombers in a trial at Collingullie on Thursday March 22.
That’s sandwiched between pre-season fixtures against Canberra sides Gungahlin (Saturday March 17 at Collingullie) and away to Belconnen a week after Easter.
“We’ll probably have a strong side against Gungahlin… it’ll be good to have a hit-out and we’ll look to reward blokes who have trained all pre-season, and really start to ramp it up.”
Collingullie-Glenfield Park will travel to Leeton to take on the Crows when the Riverina League season begins on April 21.