THE KNTFL Knights are in action this weekend looking to stake their claim as the best SE football league.
Coached by Penola's Adam Merrett, the Knights come up against the Western Border Football League and the Mid SE Football League in a three-way carnival at Vansittart Park in Mount Gambier.
Matches will consist of two 18-minute (plus time on) halves.
Merrett, who will again line up at full forward for the team, said the Knights were ready for the challenge.
"We've had a good turnout at trainings," he said.
"Obviously Adelaide blokes haven't been able to make the mid-week trainings but they've been ringing up asking how things have been going."
Unfortunately the side has been hit with a few niggling injuries from the weekend with Bordertown pair Nick Hewett and Sam Devitt, Kaniva/Leeor United coach Neil Reeve and Keith ruckman Hugo Drogemuller all pulling out of the squad.
"We've still got 28 to pick from," Merrett said. "The squad still looks pretty good."
Part of the carnival's rules are that teams must have five under 21 players in each side - and the KNTFL squad contains seven.
"It's a good concept," Merrett said. "It's more about the younger ones getting a taste of that level."
The squad picked features a healthy contingent of ruck-rover types, geared for attack-at-all-costs footy which Merrett believes is key in the shortened format. Players such as K/L United's Dylan Williams and Penola pair Ben McIntyre and Matt Willson are expected to be key.
Up forward the KNTFL's half forward line looks hard to beat, especially in the air, with Brodie Foster (Penola) at centre half forward backed up by James Dixon (Naracoorte) and Tim Harkness (Bordertown).
Lesser-known players of the league such as Ben Warner (Kingston) and Cam Sandercock (Kybybolite) will also get a chance to strut their stuff.
They are backed up by an experienced and solid defence.
Merrett said the other leagues sounded like they were shaping up well, with the WBFL reportedly imposing bans for players who do not make themselves available and the Mid SE adding a host of big names after their earlier interleague clash with the Mallee.
Last season the KNTFL had a massive win against the River Murray Football League, kicking 15 goals to two after half time to record an 84-point win with Merrett kicking eight and Kyby's Bill Laurie five.
Of that side only Laurie, Drew Clayfield and Dion Stratford have left the KNTFL while 2013 interleague best on ground Lachie Jones (Penola) has only played one game this year as he looks to break into the SANFL.
The KNTFL's day this Saturday starts with an under 17s clash with the WBFL at 11.40am, followed by the seniors at 12.30pm.
The KNTFL will then play the Mid SE in the under 17s at 1.30pm and the A grade at 2.20pm.
The under 17s grand final will be at 3.20pm followed by the A grade at 4.10pm.
Presentation of trophies and awards will follow the completion of the A grade grand final, which will include the announcement of players invited to train for the Murray SE zone team for the SA Country Football Championships.
Merrett put his support behind the new format - which may include leagues from further abroad such as the River Murray and Kangaroo Island in the future.
"It's not a bad concept - it will probably draw more of a crowd," he said.
"I think it will be the way to keep interleague going in the future."
The KNTFL's revised squad (which was further cut after training last night) is:
Matt Gill, James Dixon, Jamie Bettoncelli, Keenan Jacobs (Naracoorte), Patrick Baker (Lucindale), Daniel Burgess, Jason Milligan, Grady Obst, Jake McGrice (Mundulla), James Turner, Jono Hicks, Dylan Williams (K/L United), Cam Sandercock, Ray Jaensch (Kybybolite), Adam Merrett, Brodie Foster, Matt Willson, Matt Merrett, Matt Ferguson, Tom Pearce, Ben McIntyre (Penola), Ben Warner (Kingston), Tim Harkness, Kane Cuthbertson (Bordertown), Andrew Wilson, Seamus McMurray (Keith), Mitchell Gibbs, Seb Townsend, Archie Longbottom (Padthaway).
To see a likely starting lineup go to www.naracoorteherald.com.au.