On Tuesday, the 2023 Toyota AFL Broken Hill Premiership season officially kicks off with the Anzac Day clash between Central and West at the Jubilee Oval.
The match has been played on ANZAC Day just four times since 2018 (the 2020 match didn’t go ahead due to Covid) with the ledger split evenly among the two teams with a couple of wins each. Last season Central easily accounted for West by 51 points.
The 2022 losing grand finalist, Central has seen some change with long-time coach Greg Wellington leaving the club due to work commitments, and his former assistant, Sheldon Hall, stepping up for season 2023.
“It will be a tough act to follow, that’s for sure,” Hall told the Truth.
“We are probably doing eight out of 10 things the way we did under Wello. We’re determined to try and stay at the pointy end of things. We don’t want to drop off, and the playing group has embraced that.”
The Central coach also spoke about what it means to play on such a huge occasion, and said it was a showcase day for the league. Hall is expecting it to be a tightly contested affair.
“It is a massive privilege playing on Anzac Day. I reckon it will be a hotly contested game. West are going to be a great team to watch this season, just hopefully not against us.”
It is a similar story at West, with long time coach David Ruddock departing the red and black at the end of last season and Nathan Pearce taking the reins as senior coach.
West have gone on an aggressive recruitment campaign and impressed many onlookers at the Lightning Cup just a couple of weeks ago. Their performances at the Jubilee Oval during the preseason competition have led many to predict this will be the season the Mighty Robins will awaken.
“I wouldn’t say (our recruitment) was aggressive. We identified a couple of positions we needed to improve to move forward, and it just so happened that a couple of people came to town and were available, so we went there,” West coach Nathan Pearce said.
“It was just about getting West people back to West. That was the big thing.”
Pearce spoke about the expectations of the fanbase but said he is not feeling the pressure. He acknowledged the recruitment had heightened expectations.
“We set high expectations on ourselves as a group. Immediate success would be great, but at the end of the day, I’ve got a two-year tenure here at this stage. So, it is all about improvement.”
The West coach also highlighted the importance of the occasion on Anzac Day and what an honour it was to be leading his team into battle on the football field.
“It’s definitely something we don’t take lightly. I think it is one of the best days of the year and we will go into battle, in a sense, on the footy field, whilst also paying respects to those that ANZAC Day represents.”
The action kicks off from 12pm at the Jubilee Oval this Anzac Day, with West taking on Central in the women’s competition, followed by the men’s reserve clash between the two rivals, with the main event kicking off from 3.40pm.