Good form halts squad cull
From Hobart Mercury
Reported by James Bresnehan
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IT was supposed to be "off with their heads" for 13 players at the selection table after state training at Blundstone Arena last night, but just too many men are in good form.
So state coach Adam Sanders gave them a stay of execution until Monday, when he will announce a squad culled from the original 38 to 25 for Tasmania's interstate clash with the VFL in Hobart on Saturday week.
Sanders put the squad through a testing 75-minute session under lights on the wide expanses of Bellerive, and was impressed by what he saw.
Despite early criticism of the state squad's "youth policy" for the clash with the powerful VFL, Sanders is confident selectors picked the right men for the job.
"It was very satisfying to see that a lot of guys in the squad were in their club's best at the weekend," Sanders said after training.
"I watched Clarence and South Launceston and certainly Brady Jones, Aaron French and Jake Cox played good footy, and a couple of the South guys like Michael Musicka and Jay Blackberry were playing good footy for South. So the squad are in good form."
Sanders and state selectors Mathew Armstrong and Nick Probert, and assistant coaches Ben Beams (Glenorchy), Darren Winter (Lauderdale), Anthony Taylor (Launceston) and Zane Littlejohn (North Launceston) will decide the final 25 -- the team and three emergencies.
"It's based on balance," Taylor said. "We want to make sure we've got enough ruckmen, midfielders, defenders and forwards in there ... to make sure we've got everything covered."
Players will be rewarded for club form and what they show at training.
"We're looking for guys who are really competitive and who run and cover the ground and are clean with their skills," Sanders said.
"Some guys really stepped up at last week's session, and tonight was another opportunity for me to have a look to see how they compare and if they were in a competitive situation with one another, to see who comes out on top. That's what tonight was all about."
This weekend's round of TSL matches is a final chance for players not in the squad to impress selectors.
"At this stage we haven't made any additions," Sanders said.
"If injuries happen or we decide (we're) missing something here or there, it's always open for someone else to come into the squad.
"We'll see how everyone is at rehab on Sunday, and then we'll announce the reduced squad," he said.