MAFFRA coach Hayden Burgiel believes things are looking good for the club, after the Eagles lost a number of players last season.
Sitting one game clear in third on the Gippsland League ladder, Burgiel said the team was pleased with how the team had performed so far.
“Our goal at the start of the year was to finish top three and we’ve still got a few guys out with injuries,” Burgiel said.
“We’re hoping to get them back over the next eight weeks, so when that happens we should be able to hold onto that spot.”
Burgiel confirmed the injuries were only “niggles” and all players were confident of returning before the finals.
In round 11, the Eagles defeated Drouin by two goals, but Burgiel said the side “went to sleep” in the last 15 minutes of the game.
“We had a six-goal lead and then Drouin, to their credit, kicked four to get back,” he said.
“We certainly can’t let that happen again.”
From a coaching perspective, Burgiel believed Leongatha and Sale were “a few strides ahead” of the rest of the competition.
Maffra plays Leongatha in two weeks and Burgiel said the team was now focusing on how it would defeat the two powerhouse teams.
“Sale and Leongatha are the only two real flag contenders this year,” Burgiel said.
According to Burgiel, “youth and fitness” have been the keys to Sale and Leongatha’s dominance this season.
“Both sides have got kids from about three or four years ago who have really taken off,” he said.
“They’ve been able to step up in senior footy; they’re fit and fast and look like they will be for a few years because they have a core group in that 20 to 24 year-old age bracket.”
Closer to home, Burgiel said he was excited to play his first game for 2012 last week, but has enjoyed being able to focus on coaching for the first half of the year.
“Having some guys out with injury made it a bit easier for me to pull the boots on,” he said.
“With a change of coach, there are always changes to the game plan, how you move the ball, training, etc and it’s been great to be able to work on that.”
Burgiel said he was also “impressed” with how the Eagles’ young players had come through this season and was confident the club was in “a good place”.