By ZAC MILBANK
Sturt could employ a ”go small” policy for its new-look backline structure when the Statewide Super League begins on Saturday June 27.
The Double Blues have been forced into a major defensive reshuffle as a result of Jack Oatey Medallists Jack Stephens and Fraser Evans retiring, as well as premiership backman Rune Gilfoy deciding to have a break at Unley.
Northern Territory recruit Sam Smith was poised to lock down one of the key defensive posts but an untimely ACL injury to his knee has ruled him out for 2020.
Speaking on SANFL Radio, Sturt coach Nathan Grima revealed he was set to experiment with former AFL-listed duo Jordan Houlahan and Dean Gore playing across half-back.
Reliable premiership back pocket Guy Page, who only managed two League games last year due to a series ankle injury, is ready to go while former Adelaide State League player Hamish Latchford is another lining up for his opportunity.
Late-signing Latchford has been joined at Oxford Terrace by former Power-listed speedster Aidyn Johnson, who had initially planned to play with Richmond’s VFL side after speaking with the Double Blues before Christmas.
Grima received a phone call from Johnson asking if it wasn’t too late to return to SA so he can play for Sturt after being released by the Tigers.
Exciting young midfield prospects Josh Shute, Jed McEntee and Tom Lewis are all gearing up to play regular League footy, as is the athletic Mihail Lochowiak, who showed glimpses of his talent in 2019.
Grima said forgotten utility Joel Thiele has earned ”first crack” in the midfield after a strong preseason campaign after finding himself on the outer last year.
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