GNFL season preview: Northampton using pain of finals exit last year to attack 2023

Jake Santa Maria & Fraser Williams Geraldton Guardian
Beau Walker, shown with the ball, and Harry Taylor are key to the Rams' prospects.
Camera IconBeau Walker, shown with the ball, and Harry Taylor are key to the Rams' prospects. Credit: Barry Mitchell/SnapAction

After falling short in finals last year, Northampton hopes to build off some experienced campaigners and strong youth, but the one question on most people’s minds is: “When will JK play?”

For much of last year, Northampton looked like the third-best team in the comp before a 60-point thumping at the hand of Brigades in the final round saw them drop to fourth before they were knocked out by Rovers in the first semifinal by 42 points.

That semifinal margin belies how close the game was when they trailed by just six points at three-quarter time, but it was a disappointing end to what was a promising season.

Northampton president Damien Harris said it was a tough loss but something players had used as motivation during pre-season training.

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“Northampton’s been training really strong, we started preseason early, that fall short in the finals, that hurt,” he said.

“Finals experience is hard to come by and the only way to get through that is with a win.

“There’s a lot of young local blokes that are looking really fit and keen for this season to get under way and putting the hard yards in throughout the year will hopefully pay off.”

While there is a whole season ahead of the Rams, for many outside the club the main question is when Josh Kennedy will lace up the boots again.

Harris said on or off the field, Kennedy’s experience was crucial.

“Big Josh probably might play one game but his football brain is going to be invaluable as well,” he said.

However, being Northampton there are plenty of other legends they can turn to such as Harry Taylor.

“Harry’s experience around the ground, his mentoring and coaching is absolutely unbelievable, it is fantastic,” Harris said.

“His football brain is magnificent and what he gives and brings to the young fellas is absolutely awesome.

“Jack Cripps is also coming back into the side again this year, he will probably play half a year.”

While the big names add plenty of fanfare and football experience the key for Northampton taking that next step this season will lie in their youth.

“All local boys who are getting to that age where they are really hitting their straps, most of the young ones are getting up to their 100 games or up to 50,” Harris said.

“We still have the likes of Beau Walker who will be floating around in the forward line and Brayden Jupp, the great left footer is looking fit and keen this year.

“The two Woodcock boys, Trent Simpson there’s a lot of talent there and the boys are pretty keen for the season to start.”

Northampton will begin the 2023 campaign with a Northern derby against Chapman Valley on April 29 at 4pm.

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