Red devils eye defence of state title

TOUCH FOOTBALL 

Defending champions Red Devils are confident of bringing another title back to Wollongong when the State Cup kicks off at Port Macquarie today.

Penrith, Easts and Manly will be looking to knock off the defending champs.

Red Devils president Ben Bresolin said their men's and women's sides had excellent preparations headed into the tournament.

"Our men's premier league are the defending champions and our women finished third last year so they'll be looking to go a couple better," he said.

"They've prepared extremely well and everyone seems to be fit, so that's looking good.

"They've been training very hard three or four nights a week and they're pretty switched on to bring it back home again."

The Devils got a wake-up call when they lost in the Vautin Cup final to Penrith in October but several internationals in their line-ups give them one of the strongest men's teams.

"It's very similar [to last year]; there's a few division one boys who've moved up but no big changes," Bresolin said.

"We've got Terry Deegan and Matty Tope who are Australian players, and Michael Chapman is also an Australian player, so we're pretty well covered on that side of things.

"We've also got Sam Clune and Matthew Clune.

"We're missing Adam Clune who was NSW Young Player of the Year, so he's a a big loss for us but we've also picked a fella from Canberra, Rob McCarthy, who was also nominated for junior state player of the year, so we're covered pretty well there."

The Devils' women's side will also be in the hunt, particularly with the return of former Australian rep Nicole Beck.

"We're in a bit of a transition phase with our women's team but they'll be very competitive and I'm sure they'll be up there trying to win it," he said.

"Nicole Beck, who's been the strong force behind the women's side, has come back after her first child.

"She's looking fitter every week so I think she'll make a big impact up there as she always does.

"Rachael Beck, who's also an Australian player, will be there and so will Cara Zaremski and Jess McCall, who are Australian players as well

"Kyah Grogan has just been named Wollongong touch best and fairest - she's been performing extremely well over the last year as well."

The Red Devils contingent will also include division one men's and women's sides, a men's over 50s side and seven referees.

"Our division two men won last year as well, so we'll be looking to go back-to-back there," Bresolin said.

"We're taking another women's side which is a very young side with a lot of our emerging players.

"They should go well."

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