By ZAC MILBANK
South Adelaide heads into the 2019 Statewide Super League season with confidence, knowing its best is good enough to be a competition pacesetter.
The Panthers defeated eventual 2018 premier North Adelaide twice last year but got pipped by the Roosters when it mattered most in the Elimination Final.
Speaking on SANFL TV, second-year South coach Jarrad Wright said this gave his group plenty of belief that with a few improvements this season, a very different ending could result in September.
There will be a significant changing of the guard in the bigman department at Noarlunga, with co-captain Keegan Brooksby snapped up by West Coast, high-flier Nathan Kreuger to Geelong while Alex Aurrichio and Tom Fields will line up for the Southport Sharks in Queensland.
Former Box Hill giant Michael Knoll will get a decent chance to lead the ruck for South while impressive Sandringham recruit Hayden McLean will provide a handy foil in attack for spearhead Sam Overall.
The addition of delisted West Coast forward Malcolm Karpany is sure to raise excitement levels, with the speedy left-footer forecasting a move to the wing at Flinders University Stadium.
Leg speed has also been boosted by the return of Emmanuel Irra, who has spent the past two seasons on Port Adelaide’s rookie list.
Wright has also been buoyed by the positive development on the track this summer of defender Jaidan Kappler while Jackson Elmes has had a ”terrific pre-season” which has resulted in him getting ”bigger and stronger.”
Teenagers Hayden Sampson and Reece Milsom are two other Panther cubs Wright expects to push up to play in the Statewide Super League this year.