North Hobart is looking to regain the respect of the Bupa Tasmanian State League after a difficult 2018.
TSL Digital Reporter Grant Jessup caught up with Demons coach Richard ‘Bear’ Robinson to discuss the club’s pre-season, stand-out performers and list changes.
TSL Inception: 2009
TSL Premierships: 0
Head Coach: Richard ‘Bear’ Robinson
Captain: Hugh N.J Williams
Home Ground: North Hobart Oval
Biggest Rival: Tigers FC
2018 Ladder Position: 7th (Win: 1, Loss: 17, %: 31.40)
Key 2019 Clashes:
Round 2 v Glenorchy at KGV, April 6, 6:00pm – Saturday Night Footy.
Round 4 v Tigers at Twin Ovals, April 19, 2:30pm – Good Friday.
Round 11 v Tigers at North Hobart Oval, June 15, 2:00pm – Indigenous Recognition Match.
Round 20 v North Launceston at Invermay Park, August 17, 2:00pm – North Hobart’s first ever game at Invermay Park.
2018 was a challenging first year at the helm for North Hobart coach Richard ‘Bear’ Robinson.
The relatively inexperienced Demons side, featuring young stars such as Will Peppin, Samuel Collins, Jake Steele and Samuel Caswell in key roles, won only one game in 2018.
“It was bloody tough,” Robinson said.
During the previous off-season, the Demons had lost their coach, an assistant coach and several key position players, including 2017 Best and Fairest winner Ryan Matthews.
However, this off-season has been far less turbulent.
“Things off-field are heading in the right direction,” said Robinson.
“We’ve had a lot of blokes who have had great pre-seasons.”
Off-field stability is allowing the North Hobart Football Club to solely focus on what they want to achieve in the 2019 Bupa Tasmanian State League.
“We want to get some respect back in the competition,” said Robinson.
“We want to try and gain some respect on the field.”
The Demons have made major changes to their pre-season program, which they hope will improve the club’s fortunes in 2019.
“We changed our format around a fair bit,” said Robinson.
“We based our pre-season on the fundamentals, adding size and being able to cover more ground.”
Robinson believes the pre-season has been highly beneficial for younger players.
“Most of the kids have put three to four kilos on and have gotten a lot stronger, they’ll be able to cover the ground this year more than in previous years.”
“It’s been well received by the playing group, so it’s been a good pre-season.”
Several players have stood out to Robinson during the pre-season, including young gun Samuel Caswell.
“Sammy Caswell has had a great pre-season.”
Robinson is predicting a breakout 2019 from the 19-year-old, who made his senior TSL debut in 2016.
Demons Vice-Captain Hugh M. Williams is also receiving praise for his strong pre-season.
“He’s got himself in unbelievable nick, he’s been working like a beast, he’s as strong and as big as he’s ever been,” said Robinson.
Talented youngster Bradley Young has also caught the attention of Robinson for his work ethic.
“He’s only just turned 18, he played three or four games before the season finished last year.”
Unlike the previous off-season, North Hobart’s playing list has been relatively stable.
“We haven’t lost too many to be honest,” said Robinson.
The only major departure is young star Baxter Norton, who is training in Victoria with VFL club Werribee.
“Baxter Norton has been training with Werribee, so we facilitated that move there for him.”
Martyn Allison’s move back to North Hobart did not occur due to the midfielder’s work commitments.
“He’s gone back to Claremont, so that’s disappointing”.
Several experienced players are returning to the Demons this season with former AFL player Sam Darley and key midfielder Jayden Charlton set to wear the red and blue once more.
“We’ve got a better age demographic this year than last year, that gives us another chance to compete.”
SAM DARLEY & MARTYN ALLISON SIGN FOR NORTH HOBART
NHFC is delighted to announce the signings of @Sdarley14 & Martyn Allison for the 2019-20 seasons.
Both have signed 2 year deals and we can’t wait to see them back in Red & Blue.
— North Hobart Demons (@NorthHobartFC) October 31, 2018
The recruiting department has been busy with 2018 North West Football League premiership players Jack McCulloch and Fin Poke joining the Demons along with midfielder Luke Waters from Ovens and Murray club Myrtleford.
25-year-old key defender Matthew Yates also joins the club with previous experience in the Victorian Amateur Football Association Premier A competition.
Despite a tough 2018, North Hobart renewed Richard Robinson’s contract at the end of last season for another two years.
The Demons clearly have complete faith in ‘Bear’ to lead this young side back into finals contention.
Robinson did not say who he believes is the team to beat in 2019. However, he did provide this assessment about the state of the Bupa Tasmanian State League in 2019.
“I think it’s going to be a very even competition”.
If North Hobart’s pre-season is any indication, the Demons should be a more competitive force in 2019.
The Demons will host 2018 Grand Finalists, Lauderdale, at North Hobart Oval in Round 1 on Saturday, March 30 at 2:00pm.