Western Pride is delighted to announce the players who won the PlayStation® 4 NPL Queensland 2017 Grand Final have re-signed for the 2018 season.
Captain Jesse Rigby, player of the year Adam Endean and ex-A-League defender Cameron Crestani head the list of twelve senior players who elected to stay in the Green and White hoops next season.
Mitchell Bird and Joe Duckworth will again provide firepower after scoring 25 goals between them this season while young keeper Max Davison will look to consolidate his hold on the #1 shirt.
Pride coach Graham Harvey moved quickly to secure the squad which won eleven games on the trot to see club win its first major trophy.
Harvey said he was pleased that despite the success, the players believed they could continue their development at Pride.
“(Grand Final success) does not mean that we pat ourselves on the back and think job done,” Harvey said.
“The objective is still in my eyes to get some players into the professional game like we did with Harrison Sawyer.
“I challenge Joey and Jesse in particular to kick on next season and get into the pro game.”
Grand-final free-kick hero Dylan Wenzel-Halls is missing from the list of returning players as the striker will be exploring an opportunity at a higher-level at the completion of Pride’s trip to Japan.
Visa player Sam Fitzgerald is the only confirmed departure from the victorious squad after deciding to move back to the UK by the end of the year.
Harvey thanked Fitzgerald for his contribution to Pride over the last season-and-a-half.
“Sam brought his experience from being a professional in the UK here to Australia,” Harvey said.
“He has a good range of passing and brought a much-needed calm voice to the midfield.”
Harvey added long-term injured pair Boni Thomas and Nielen Brown will be given every assistance in pre-season to recover and secure another year at Pride.
With futures secured, Pride’s players will now look to defend their title next year in a much-changed NPL.
An additional three teams are scheduled to join the competition in 2018, while the challenge of playing teams struggling against relegation will add extra drama as the season progresses.
Harvey said retaining his squad had given him a head-start in preparation for next year.
“We do not want to be wasting time in pre-season trialling players as it is unprofessional and shows a lack of organisation and scouting,” Harvey said.
“A pre-season spent with the whole squad working tactically will be invaluable.”
RETURNING SENIOR PLAYERS: Jesse Rigby, Mitchell Bird, Cameron Crestani, Max Davison, Joe Duckworth, Adam Endean, Gabriel Hawash, Jordan Lambi, Will McFarlane, Hayden McHenery, Jacob Minett, Delors Tuyishime. DEPARTING: Sam Fitzgerald.
WORDS: Garry McKenzie
PHOTOGRAPHY: Chris Simpson
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