Singleton Roosters AFC fielding three teams - firsts, reserves and women's - in revamped AFL Hunter Central Coast 2020 season

GAME ON: Singleton Roosters AFC president Nadene McBride is looking forward to the revamped AFL Hunter Central Coast season in 2020.
GAME ON: Singleton Roosters AFC president Nadene McBride is looking forward to the revamped AFL Hunter Central Coast season in 2020.

THE Singleton Roosters are primed to crow again after AFL Hunter Central Coast received the all-clear to restart the 2020 season.

The organisation and NSW/ACT AFL have worked diligently in recent weeks to ensure players return to the field this year, while respecting all NSW Government guidelines around coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

"Sport plays a crucial role in keeping children, families and communities connected and the AFL at a local, state and national level is committed to its role in the health and wellbeing of communities," AFL Hunter Central Coast board chair David Flynn said.

"COVID-19 has presented many challenges for the season.

"But, we are up for a challenge and determined to find the opportunity for our players and football family.

"AFL is about more than the scoreboard and we recognise our role in helping our community return to a level or normality following unprecedented disruption."

A 12-round home and away draw will kick off on Saturday, July 18, before a revamped four-team knockout finals series concludes with an October 17 decider.

And, that's great news for the Singleton Roosters AFC, according to president Nadene McBride.

"We're looking okay - and very happy to be playing again," she said.

"We'll still field three senior squads, including the women's side, as well as three junior outfits.

"Unfortunately, we've lost one of the younger teams.

"But, in saying that, it's allowed us to make the remaining ones stronger.

"Luckily, the coaches have kept on top of things."

McBride admitted the shortened 2020 program wouldn't impact the Roosters too much.

"We're only losing four weeks, would you believe?" she said.

"Instead of the usual 16 rounds, we'll play 12 - and finish later in October.

"However, at this stage, we don't know who we're facing in the first game.

"We, along with the other clubs, only submitted our teams [last Friday].

"We're just trying to figure out who's in and who's out.

"At least we are allowed to train, as per normal, from this week.

"Previously, due to COVID-19 protocols, we had 10 players in a group, then that number increased to 20.

"That can make life interesting, especially with social distancing."

The Roosters' fortunes this year will lay with experienced mentors: newcomer Jed Ellis-Cluff (firsts), senior vice-president Sam Howard (reserves) and McBride (women's).

"Jed's had a pretty good career in footy - and he's been around the state, from Coffs Harbour up north to the Sydney-Camden area, out to Tamworth," she told The Argus.

"He's a nice young lad; and very keen about football.

"It's great to attract some new blood, so it's terrific to have him on board.

"I think we've got all bases covered.

"We were in a good position before COVID-19 struck, so there's no reason we can't maintain that momentum."

"We'll know more once we get on the field."

Demonstrating a synergy between the senior and junior competitions, the youngsters will also follow a four-team knockout finals series prior to the grand final on October 18.

"Clubs are firming up their numbers so anyone looking to pull on their boots this season should register with their local club," Flynn said.

"Now is a great time to try AFL if you haven't played before."

AFL Hunter Central Coast boasts competitions from under-9s to under-17s, with youth girls the fastest growing demographic.

The Auskick program will start on July 19.

"Footy will be a bit different this year, but players want to get back on the field and we will make that happen with a some strict rules and regulations in place to protect people's safety," Flynn said.