Jeremy Henry has an ominous message for his Illawarra Grade 1 pennant rivals – champions Warilla will be even stronger in 2018.
Warilla have been unstoppable in the top grade in recent years with a list of talented bowlers to overwhelm their Zone 16 rivals.
But after winning their the holy grail of pennants, the State Grade 1 flag in 2016 after a number of painful near-misses the Gorillas missed out of the flag last year with Cabramatta the undisputed pennant kings.
Henry says recruiting arguably the world’s best player Alex Marshall – who played for Warilla in 2016 – plus the return of Jamie Turner, and snaring Brendan Aquilina from Dapto Citizens, gives the club more quality and depth.
Aquilina has been a standout bowler over the past 12 months in particular and reached the final of the Zone 16 Singles in 2017.
Most recently Aquilina had his best South Pacific campaign, skipping his Fours team to the semi-finals, while he and Zac Gabrielson also made the Pairs semi-finals before running into a red-hot Ray Pearse and Aaron Teys, who went on to win the event.
‘’Warilla is a really strong club. It’s going to be competitive for places in Grade 1,’’ Aquilina told the Mercury during the South Pacific carnival.
And Jeremy Henry reckons Aquilina will thrive at his new club.
‘’He’s the perfect age coming across and will fit it perfectly with our young guys like Jesse (Noronha); Teysy (Aaron Teys); Harley (McDonald) and Matty Miles,’’ Henry said.
“We needed to go and out and bring some players in if we’re to match it with the likes of Cabramatta, who’ve been a step ahead of everyone.’’
Marshall will miss the start of the 2018 Illawarra pennant season due to international commitments but once here will be remaining with the club for its expected push for the state flag.
Towradgi, Wiseman Park and Dapto Citizens loom as the main rivals to Warilla in the Southern Conference, with local clubs still finalising their squads ahead of the new season.