Bays’ “fittest we’ve ever been” on 2024 SANFLW season eve

THERE will be minimal excuses coming out of the Bays this season for not playing consistent footy, with standalone Glenelg captain Samantha Franson declaring her side is the “fittest we’ve ever been”. Crediting the strength and conditioning coaches for their work with the squad, Franson has optimism that the Tigers can take the next step and return to finals.

“We’ve definitely hit the ground running from January as well with our trial games and we can run out four quarters amazingly,” Franson said. “Our skills are awesome as well.”

Franson herself is feeling cherry ripe after coming off a season curtailed by injury, but despite that being “a bit prolonged” she said she was back to full trainin from January 1 and will be right to go for the Bays’ opening match against North Adelaide.

“The strength and conditioning coaches and the doctors have got me back up to speed and pretty quick and just to make sure that I don’t do any more injuries this year. I think I’m pulling the trigger at the right time,” Franson said.

Expecting to play in that high-forward role with some midfield bursts on an individual level, Franson said the team was determined to not drop its level like last season.

“We had a really good run,” Franson said. “I think we won five in a row. Then we had a dip for one game and we couldn’t get back up to where we needed to be. I think we’ve definitely taken that on board this year and we know what we need to do to stop that from happening again.”

After boasting SANFL Women’s League Best and Fairest winner and Port Adelaide draftee Piper Window last season, Glenelg will regain the services of previous competition best and fairest winner Jessica Bates for the 2024 season. Aside from Bates who will make an immediate impact, Glenelg has a trio of star youngsters – among others – who will step up and show their class.

“It’s so exciting seeing them from such a young age to where they are now,” Franson said. “They’ve got their confidence and their skills and their fitness is second to none. Seeing them this year, their connection as well, between Poppy (Scholz) in the backline, Violet (Patterson) in the mid and our young gun Eloise Mackereth in our forward line. It’s just so exciting, they are definitely the future of this game.”

Franson said consistency would be the focus for 2024, as the club looked to build towards the post-season series again having won the flag in 2021 and reached a preliminary final in 2022.

“I think that we lacked that (consistency) a little bit last year, but I have full faith in our whole team just to play their role and that’s all we need them to do,” Franson said.

“Obviously the premiership is the number one (goal), but I think going game by game, and not thinking too far forward to not get our heads too big.”

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