The Tumut Eagles first grade team will look very different this year and in the years to come, with the likes of James Goode, Mitchell Henman, Brendon Castle and Angus Mason-Elliott moving on to new opportunities.
As a result of these departures, there will be unprecedented competition for Pascoe Cup team spots, with no less than seven junior players making the jump to senior football.
One player that is expected to make a difference is Ethan Parker, who had a taste of senior football last season, often stepping up from the under 15/16s team to fill in when needed.
“I made my (senior) debut last season playing third grade and have only benched for one game of first grade so far,” Parker said.
The 16-year-old is now focusing his attention on making, and keeping, his place in the Eagles first XI and didn’t expect any favours along the way.
“For me the big goal for this season is to push for first grade in any way, although, as always it is extremely competitive to gain entry into the first grade squad, I know I will have to work hard for it,” Parker said.
Parker is a known attacking player, often playing in the midfield or up front, and could very well be groomed to fill the big shoes of the outgoing James Goode.
“The preference of position would definitely be the centre attacking-mid, though the first grade squad is very strong in that position,” Parker said.
“I think I can bring an unpredictability to the attack that has served me well so far.”
When quizzed on the biggest different of playing senior football, Parker noted the physical nature of the game.
“The physicality of everyone on the field would be the biggest thing I have noticed,” Parker said.
Despite not being able to train in a team setting due to Covid-19 restrictions, the youngster has been working hard behind-the-scenes to be ready for an immediate return to football.
“Recently I have been trying to stay fit and keep my touch, so that I am ready when we can go back at a moments notice,” Parker said.
Eagles president and regular first grader Ethan Kass praised Parker and touched on some of his key attributes, but admitted it would be a steep learning curve for him and the other players progressing into the senior ranks.
“I think the best things that Ethan brings to the Eagles [is] youth and energy,” Kass said.
“It is always good to have the young ones step up. It will be a big learning curve for him, but in order to progress there needs to be the challenge.”
One thing is sure-fire though; Parker, along with the likes of Jamie O’Brien, Ethan Contessa, Isaac Gray and Andy Dodds, will definitely have big roles to play. All eyes will be on the young players and their progression to being key players in Eagles on the first grade side.