Far from doom and gloom for All Blacks

KICKING GOALS: Up and coming star Jordan Smith kicks the ball goalward as teammate Sam Macgregor watches on during Benalla’s round three clash with North Wangaratta.

DESPITE sitting second from the bottom of the Ovens and King Football League ladder without a win to their name after eight rounds, things are looking up for the Benalla All Blacks.

The Panthers started the season in complete disarray, with just one first choice senior player from 2012 still on the list.

The departure list made for demoralising reading – led by best and fairest winner Daryl Webb and captain Kaine Dockery, the running sheet of outs also included emerging star Cody Taylor, midfielders Jack Frampton, Michael Wright, Richard Bull, Todd Rodgers, Steve Pickering and Richard Martiniello, key forwards Michael Donehue and Brendan Smith, ruckman Jake Jones and defenders Ben Kunkel, Matt Levy, Ben Irwin and Ian Rawlings.

It was an exodus that could have killed a weaker club, but veteran coach Gil Ould, in his first season at the Panthers’ helm, said it didn’t take long to regroup.

“I think we lost 28 boys all up, so it’s a fairly substantial chunk of the club gone,” Ould said.

“But the club’s directive from that point on was to get the young kids who had come up from the thirds back to the club and to really focus on developing that talent.

“Everyone at the club was realistic about the situation we were in – we knew that we had to basically take the scoreboard out of it and just focus on some different key performance indicators.

“The upside is that despite all those losses our numbers are good and we are still able to field firsts, seconds and thirds teams.”

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