Norwood premiership coach Jade Rawlings will coach South Australia in this year’s State Game against Western Australia in May at the Adelaide Oval.
A proud Tasmanian who acted as an assistant for the Croweaters’ successful four-point win against the WAFL in Perth last year, Rawlings is excited about the prospect of securing a fourth consecutive victory whilst retaining the Haydn Bunton Junior Cup.
Speaking on SANFL Radio, Rawlings revealed he will be joined by fellow Hostplus League coaches Jacob Surjan (North Adelaide) and Darren Reeves (Glenelg), who will work as his assistants.
“It is a privilege to coach South Australia, it’s not lost on me the importance of the State Game and where it fits into people’s lives,” Rawlings said.
“The significance of the game really dawned on me in the last 24 hours, on acceptance of the role I was really pleased that I got offered the opportunity, but thinking more recently about the significance of the game – it’s a big deal.
“I am a big one for the history of football, but it didn’t take me long to realise what the clubs meant to their supporters in SA and what South Australian footy means to South Australians.”
The 45-year-old confirmed more appointments were to be finalised soon on the assistant coaching and support staff panel, ahead of the clash to be played as a curtain-raiser to the Port Adelaide v Melbourne AFL game at 3pm on Friday May 19 at Adelaide Oval.
In a change to previous years, a “tighter” squad will be selected closer to the last remaining annual senior State League contest, providing selectors with a solid form, and injury, guide across the opening four to five round of the Hostplus SANFL League.
The West End State team has won its past three encounters against the Black Swans, securing a comprehensive 53-point victory in their last meeting at Adelaide Oval in 2021.
“It was really enjoyable to be a part of the team and the travel to Perth last year, and get to know other players, coaches and staff,” Rawlings said.
“It was great to see the enthusiasm towards the State Game, that really impressed me last year – there is a real thirst and badge of honour to be known as a State player.
“I was really impressed with every player who had the opportunity to play in the squad in 2022 so we hope it’s at a similar level this year.”
Incredibly, SA boasts a 49-48 advantage against WA across all forms of State matches played between the Nullarbor rivals since 1904.
Surjan will assist in plotting his home state’s demise for the fourth occasion while rookie Bays mentor Reeves has been handed his first opportunity after showing a strong desire to help the Croweaters’ cause.
By Zac Milbank (SANFL) and Josh Teakle (Norwood FC)