The North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos will be looking to make Tasmania a fortress, according to coach Scott Gowans.
The Kangaroos’ inaugural season will see the side playing their opening two home fixtures in the state, with a round one blockbuster against Carlton at North Hobart Oval and a round three Friday night special against 2018 premiers the Western Bulldogs at UTAS Stadium in Launceston.
While the North Melbourne men’s team has forged great success at Blundstone Arena – 14 wins from 18 matches – Gowans is hoping that his new side can create a similarly imposing record across the state as a whole.
“I am really looking forward top coming back in Feb to play Carlton in round one at North Hobart Oval,” Gowans said of coming up against the team he was previously an assistant at.
“It is really exciting. It was important to get one of the bigger clubs to play here in the first game.
“Similar to our men’s program, who have made coming down to Tasmania a bit of a fortress, we hope to do the same and we can’t wait.
Gowans and his team at North Melbourne have assembled an impressive squad, headlined by the likes of Emma Kearney and Moana Hope alongside a raft of Tasmanian stars including established guns Emma Humphries, Daria Bannister and Brittany Gibson; and with the AFL Women’s competition continuing to go from strength to strength, Gowans is confident the third season of the competition will be the best one yet, with the opening match at North Hobart Oval set to help further the standard of the competition.
“I think what you will find is that the skill level will progress, like it did from year one to two.
“Playing at a stadium like this [North Hobart Oval] will allow the scoring to be higher and create more excitement for the players and supporters.
“There is a lot of interest in this game at North Hobart Oval, so I think we can pull a big crowd in, but for us it is more about Tasmania as a whole. We want to isolate the state as a fortress and with players from both ends from the state, as well as east and west, we feel as if we will develop a state-based sense of belonging.”
Emma Kearney, fresh off winning the 2018 AFL Women’s Best and Fairest Medal in a premiership year at the Western Bulldogs, is eager to get stuck into the season and play in the Apple Isle.
“It is nice to have the fixture out now so we can plan for what the season looks like,” she said.
“Having our first every game at North Hobart Oval is going to be sensational.
“It is a fantastic facility and it is going to be great for the women’s game – we are hoping that lots of Hobart locals come down.”
Kearney has made the move to the Kangaroos alongside Tasmanian Daria Bannister, and insists that Tasmanian players bring a unique presence to the AFL Women’s competition.
“They have a certain accent some of those Tasmanians,” Kearney said with a laugh.
“They are just ripping people. I have been able to meet all the players now and they are all great characters. They all play a slightly different brand of footy – they are all tough footballers, so we are expecting a physical contest with some of those players.