The Western Magpies host 2014 undefeated premiers and Pre-season winners Morningside at home at Chelmer in Round 1 of QAFL on Saturday.
Morningside have been a powerhouse of QAFL footy for the past decade and a half and the Magpies will get an early appraisal of their improvement.
Coach Glenn Humphrey has been working hard with his group to fine tune a game plan which involves strong defensive structures with accurate foot and hand passing to maintain possession. Last year the ball was coughed up too easily with poor disposal and the likes of the Panthers will always make you pay for mistakes.
Morningside will still be strong but have lost some key playmakers in the off-season. The Magpies went down to the Panthers in the pre-season semi final after a competitive first half before several injuries set them back. The pies midfield was more than competitive in that game which gives hope for a strong showing tomorrow.
The Magpies have picked a solid team despite 15 players unavailable due to injury. Unavailable players include gun recruit Luke Scott (ankle), half-forward Matt Garland (knee), key defender Chris Hunt (osteitis pubis), half back Sean Mewing (Achilles), midfielders Cory Hopkins ( back), Mitch Stallard (knee), Jake Heard (leg), Brodie Easton ( ankle) and Ben Hooper (knee).
Bill Pearce Medallist Ben Jaenke-Cain started the year the same as he finished in 2014 with plenty of possessions in the pre-season matches. The midfield brigade will be lead by the returning and experienced Tim McEvoy, co-captains Lachlan Woods and Callum Carseldine, returning after a year off with injury, and 2 speedsters in Queensland U18 representative Aaron Maricic and new player Sonny Aneet on the wings.
Dom Beer has overcome a tight hamstring to return to the ruck and he will get support from Redlands listed youngster Liam Dwyer.
Doug Lawrence will hold down CHB in the absence of Chris Hunt and Hayden Thick is up there with the best fullbacks in the QAFL. Sean McEvoy gets a deserved start in First grade and will provide a tall defensive option plus has good leg speed to be a rebounding defender.
Up forward Alex Dickfos returns after a year off and will be primed for a big season and with Matt Davis, Val Pope and Matt Thompson providing forward options the Pies will look to kick a competitive score.
There are four Redlands listed players in the team with only Jack Goodall returning from last year for this match.
The Magpies are under no illusions as to what awaits them tomorrow but will be primed for a big game against the nominal flag favourites.
Western Magpies team
B: Luke Mitchell, Hayden Thick, Sean Mcevoy
HB: Tyler Jones (R), Doug Lawrence, Jack Goodall (R)
C: Aaron Yusia-Maricic, Ben Jaenke-Cain, Sonny Aneet
HF: Tom Ielasi, Matt Davis, Val Pope
F: Matt Thompson, Alex Dickfos, Jack Williams (R)
R: Dom Beer, Tim McEvoy, Callum Carseldine (Co-Capt)
Int: Richard Wenham, Drew Mitchell, Lachlan Woods (Co-Capt), Liam Dwyer (R)