Mixing youth and experience key

Opportunity has been high for young players at Eastern Suburbs, with eight members of their National Youth League squad being given a chance at senior football.

Hoani Edwards, Head Coach of Eastern Suburbs’ Lotto NRFL Men’s Premier side, is keen to push as many talented youngsters as he can through to senior football.

“I took the National Youth league side so part of the goal for the club was to push some of those Youth League players into the winter season and senior football,” says Edwards.

“We managed to do that, we’ve got eight come in from the side and we’ve been lucky to have half a dozen or so from the National League side come on board and help these young guys out.”

Edwards admits striking a balance between youth and experience is a challenge but it is one he is willing to put first before results.

“It is hard, we tried to target the right kind of senior guys – the ones that we knew would help the younger players coming through, not get frustrated at the level their use to playing at but also it’s an opportunity for the club, as much as we want to do well and win it it’s not the key goal.

“It’s really to push some of these young guys and give them a taste of senior football and a lot of them are showing that they are capable at that level.”

“A couple that have really stood out are centre back Troy Tapsell, he’s within the U-20 mix but is looking to go to the states like a lot of the boys.

“Frank Clarke has been involved with the senior side for a few years now but is still very young and Dylan Bull is due a very good season if he can stay fit – he’s looking sharp.”

With the season well underway, and Suburbs occupying ninth spot, Edwards believes it’s going to be a tough but close season.

“We haven’t had a side that has given us an easy run yet, so it’s certainly tough, but also quite close, no one has really stood out.

“Maybe Onehunga on paper have got a very strong side and they certainly did well against us but I think it’s going to be very close.

Eastern Suburbs take on Three Kings United in round 8 of the Lotto NRFL Premier Division this weekend with the match kicking off at 3pm.