Senior Coach Jade Rawlings on Pre-Season, Trials, New Faces and Injuries

It’s just over a week away from Norwood’s 2023 SANFL season getting underway against Woodville-West Torrens, on Friday night, March 31 at Coopers Stadium.

The Redlegs host three blockbuster matches to open their season, kicking off against the Eagles in what will be the 2022 Premiership Flag unveiling, followed by an Easter Thursday clash with Sturt (April 6) and the traditional Anzac Day Grand Final re-match with North Adelaide (Tuesday, April 25).

There will be a bye on the weekend of April 15 for the AFL’s Gather Round, with two games to be held at Norwood’s Coopers Stadium on April 14 (Gold Coast V Fremantle) and 16 (GWS V Hawthorn).

With Round 1 scheduled for next Friday, Senior Coach Jade Rawlings said it was an exciting time at the club with Pre-Season and three Trial matches in the books.

“It’s a terrific feeling (heading into Round 1), I love the optimism that football brings at the start of each season – players, coaches, supporters, administrators are all optimistic about what their team can do, and we are no different,” Rawlings said.

“To start with three games in a row at The Parade with the potential crowds we can get, and the opposition we have got it’s exciting. The unveiling of the flag will be a big deal for our supporters in Round 1.

“From a footy point of view we still have some work to do – we have some players that will be late starters which are remnants of last year’s late finals run, which we knew was going to occur, and we also have some new players that may come into the line-up.”

Keep scrolling for injury report.

“The feeling is not too dissimilar to this time last year, we have been a bit clunky during the three trial matches, establishing who is positioned best on the field and how it comes together.”

“These next two weeks will be really enjoyable as we get some good training in and get ready for Round 1.”

Trial Matches

Norwood’s three SANFL Trials included a win against Central District (11.16-82 to 8.8-56), and losses to Sturt (6.5-41 to 11.10-76) and the Eagles (9.6-60 to 17.9-111).

“The trial period has given us some feedback on where we have some gaps in our game,” Rawlings said.

“We exposed some players that are new to the club, some recruits and U18s, so we got a look at a reasonable amount of players.

“We had a really good half against Centrals; against Sturt we went in really inexperienced and were inconsistent through the four quarters; and on Friday night we were disappointing against the Eagles who were red-hot.

“The intensity of Centrals, Sturt and the Eagles was really high and that couldn’t be better for us.”

New Faces

Rawlings said it was good to see some new faces in action, particularly in the Sturt game where just six players from last year’s Grand Final team took to the field.

“We were able to see some different players during the trials, such as Peter Minervini (returning) playing his first senior game, as well as the likes of U18 Logan Evans, Oscar Hodge (returning), Luke Bogle (South), Harvey Pedler (U18), Alec Wright (Launceston), Matthew Ling (Geelong VFL), Goy Lok (Casey) and Oliver Sanders (North Launceston), with so many senior players missing against Sturt,” Rawlings said.

“That’s where opportunities can emerge and players can come into the team, and others can show that they are at the level to handle senior footy – they may not be in immediately but we know they can deal with the game.”

Norwood has welcomed 30 new players to the senior list this season, including Jackson Callow (Hawthorn), Jack Saunders (Hawthorn), Patrick Walker (North Melbourne), Matthew Ling (Geelong VFL), Ethan Haylock (Woodville-West Torrens), Jake Cresswell (South Adelaide), Luke Bogle (South Adelaide), Oliver Sanders (North Launceston), Michael Stingel (North Launceston), Alec Wright (Launceston), Goy Lok (Casey Demons), Samuel Nehme (Oakleigh), Nicholas Weightman (Ballarat), Chance Doultree (Footscray), Mitch Jenkin (Lobethal), Harry Allen (Uraidla), Taaj Nicholls (Mintaro and Manoora), Hugh Strickland (Marist College Canberra), Jack Chiswell (Mildura), Taj Rahui (Norwood U18), Josh Bradford (Norwood U18), Tyson Walls (Norwood U18), Damon Pitt (Norwood U18), Alex van Wyk (Norwood U18),  Beau Baldwin (Norwood U18), Harvey Pedler (Norwood U18), Isiah Wilksch (Norwood U18),  Noah Hyde (Norwood U18), Dannen Blacker (Norwood U18) and Logan Evans (still U18).

“I am so pleased with all the new players into the club this season, how quickly they have come into the club and understood what’s an acceptable way of training, working and behaving,” Rawlings said.

“The desire to play for Norwood from every new player has been fantastic.

“We have some major additions to the list this year. Someone like Matthew Ling is ready made, he spent four years on the Sydney Swans AFL list and was runner-up Best and Fairest for Geelong’s VFL side – the trials have been helpful for him, to understand the demands of SANFL footy and learn the Norwood way, but he is a high-end athlete and quality human.”


Rawlings said a number of players were slow starters in pre-season, given post season surgeries from the 2022 finals campaign.

“We have had a number of knees and ankles done which take time to recover,” he said.

“We are going to continue to pick a fit team, that’s what we have held ourselves to account over the last couple of years.

“We will pick players who can deal with the intensity of a game and back it up, rather than play people early because they are a name on a magnet – it might look a bit different early in the year with some names missing, but they will come back.”

Jack Saunders suffered a head knock in the first trial, but should be ready for Round 1.

Jackson Callow, Patrick Walker and Pierce Seymour will be a late starters due to ankle injuries.

Finn Heard, Cory Stockdale, Tyrin Book and Josh Richards have had major knee surgery and will be late starters.

“It is frustrating that we won’t have these players early in the season, but it’s reality, they will get fit and come back when they are ready.”


The Senior Men’s Leadership Group will be made up of Matthew Nunn (Captain), Jacob Kennerley (Vice Captain), Matthew Panos, Declan Hamilton, Nik Rokahr, Harry Boyd and Jack Heard.

“We have some stability in leadership with six of last years seven retaining a leadership role, with Jack Heard coming into the group – Mitch Wilkins has come out of the leadership group, but still maintains an important leadership role within the club,” Rawlings said.

“When there is stability in key areas of a footy club it’s always a good sign of people being aligned and understanding what type of club we want to be.

“When the leaders have another opportunity to work together to influence the club and playing group, and make the team play the way they want them to play that’s a good sign.

“All with the exception of Matt Panos, the leaders are young in their leadership roles – Nik Rokahr and Harry Boyd are still young men in the middle of their careers, about to emerge, Jack Heard is young, Dec Hamilton is in the middle of his career. They are in a position where they can be leaders for a long period of time.”

By Josh Teakle – Norwood FC

Norwood U18 player Logan Evans during the League Trial Match against Sturt earlier this month. Evans maintains a spot on the club’s Senior Men’s list for 2023.

League Trial Match Results:

Norwood – 11.16-82

Central District – 8.8-56

Goals: Binder 3, McLean 2, Lowden, Ling, Tranfa, Pascoe, Boyd, Surman


Norwood – 6.5-41

Sturt – 11.10-76

Goals: Pascoe, Surman, Lowden, Jarvis, Binder

Norwood – 9.6-60

Eagles – 17.9-111

Goals: Jarvis 3, Rokahr 2, Panos, Lowden, Tranfa, Taheny