By ZAC MILBANK
Incoming Sturt coach Nathan Grima firmly believes his side is still in the premiership picture despite last year’s straight-sets exit from the major round.
Coming off back-to-back premierships under Martin Mattner, the Double Blues were derailed by key injuries during the 2018 finals series as they succumbed to the Eagles and North Adelaide in consecutive weeks.
Speaking on SANFL TV, Grima said he owed it to the senior players at Unley to ensure the playing group was still in contention as they enter the twilight of their career.
Only losing League regulars in Jack Osborn (retirement) and Shane McAdam (Adelaide) will assist in this quest, particularly with the return of star veteran Danyle Pearce.
Pearce, who featured in 258 AFL games for Fremantle and Port Adelaide, will play his first game for Sturt since Round 8 2012 when he lines up against Adelaide at Peter Motley Oval in Round 1.
The hard-running left-footer has also been joined at Oxford Terrace by 199cm giant Josh Patullo, who hails from the small Victorian country town of Lang Lang.
Having played for Footscray in the VFL last year, Patullo has modelled his game on former St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt while also revealing he can pinch hit in the ruck.
Sign up to see all the news from around the SANFL each week – directly in your inbox!