By James Ward
New Lake Macquarie City coach Josh Rufo believes the plethora of changes in his squad could be a help, rather than a hindrance in 2020.
The Roosters have made several changes in the off-season after finishing ninth last season, their lowest finish since re-joining the league in 2017.
The club parted ways with Nick Webb and brought in Rufo to the head coaching role, with Rufo bringing with him a considerable record having won multiple championships in the NEWFM Northern League One division.
A huge roster turnover has transformed the playing group with Lakes acquiring some class players in Chris Berlin from Adamstown and Cal Lewis from Charlestown, while Reece Newton will look to make his mark on the competition after enjoying a breakout year for Belmont-Swansea in 2019.
But Lakes have also been hit hard by the departure of captain and prolific goal-scorer Sam Walker, a huge loss for the club, with Walker linking up with former coach Anthony Richards at Broadmeadow.
The Roosters notched 23 goals last campaign and with Walker scoring 12 of them. And, when football resumes following the suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lakes will need another output of goals especially after finishing nine points away from the spot above in 2019.
“The large turnover of players is a healthy thing and an opportunity to bring in experienced players and I believe we have a better and stronger team than years gone by,” Rufo said.
“We want to be competitive in every game and win everything we do.
“We’re a whole new group of players and we’ve had to introduce new ideas and principles of play and I think the players are putting into practice what we’re trying to achieve.
“We thought they needed to be bigger, stronger, faster and that’s one thing people will notice. The team is a lot fitter and will play a more aggressive style of football.
“It’s probably one of the hardest pre-seasons we’ve ever done but the work rate and attitude has been positive.”
Lake Macquarie always produce a resilient squad and season 2020 will be no different, although the club will want to head more towards an upward trajectory and fight for a finals places.
The Roosters have a proud history in the division and last achieved success in the top flight in 2006, while the club have not re-emerged in the finals since gaining promotion in 2016.
With the huge recruitment drive in the off-season, the Roosters will be looking to link up quickly and start brightly to build confidence within the playing ranks.
Lake Macquarie City F.C
Coach: Josh Rufo
Captain: Corey Fletcher
Last Season: Ninth
Ins: Cal Lewis, Kaman Bol, Tyrell Paulson (Charlestown Azzurri), Cameron Tapp, Reece Newton (Belmont-Swansea), Chris Berlin (Adamstown), Iman Akram (Ghana), Sam Ford (South Cardiff)
Outs: Callum Bower (Charlestown Azzurri), Daniel Minors, Harry Lane (Valentine), Jayden Barber (Lambton), Mitch Hunter (Edgeworth), Sam Walker, Tom Walker (Broadmeadow)