A massive influx of former SANFL players has caused plenty of interest ahead of the start of the KNTFL season on Saturday, April 6.
Clubs have recruited more than a dozen players either directly from the SANFL or with a recent SANFL background.
Kingston has been the most prolific, picking up no less than five players with SANFL links, while Padthaway, KLU, Penola and Border Districts all have at least a couple and various other clubs also have one or two.
They include three-time Ken Farmer Medallist for SANFL leading goalkicker, Michael Wundke, who will be an imposing presence in Kaniva/Leeor United's goalsquare.
Round 1 matches are: Border Districts v Padthaway, Mundulla v Naracoorte, K/L United v Bordertown, Penola v Lucindale, Keith v Kingston. Kybybolite bye.
Reigning premiers MUNDULLA (1st last year) under new non-playing coach Nick Davis, have lost joint 2018 league medallist Tim McIntyre to the Wimmera league, but have gained some promising names including Alex Toogood (Mallee), Mason Turner (Riverina) and Daniel Noll (Adelaide). The northern Tigers will be strong again.
Losing grand finalist KEITH (2nd) has reappointed playing coach George Thring but many of last year's grand final players will be missing in 2019, including Billy Laurie, Ben Simounds, Henry Wilhelm, Jon Wilson, Cody Woolford and Luke Mitchell. The Crows have recruited ex-AFL listed Matthew McDonough as well as Ben Woodall from Northern Areas and Ben Crawford from Port Lincoln, but there's little doubt the losses outweigh the gains.
Last year's minor premiers KANIVA/LEEOR UNITED (3rd) will be a major player again in 2019 despite losing ruckman Nathan Bowles, defender Tarquin Brown and young forward Jesse Salt. Playing coach and key forward Nick Murphy will line up alongside big former SANFL Ken Farmer Medallist Michael Wundke who has been a big presence in practice matches. Former local Luke O'Connor, Rigby Barnes from South Adelaide and Austin Smith from Horsham district have also joined.
PENOLA (4th) has further strengthened its list under non-playing coach Matt Tilby in 2018. Western Border interleague players Brad Bryant from South Gambier and Brock Egan from North Gambier will add strength and the Eagles will also have former locals Matt and Brad Merrett back from Adelaide. Penola premiership key forward Brodie Foster has moved on to Mid SE club Glencoe.
LUCINDALE (5th) has on-baller Ryan McInerney as playing coach again and the Roos look to have recruited very well while holding most of last year's list. Past premiership players Anthony Laurencic and Josh Walker are back, while Naracoorte premiership rover Robert Jones and Ricky Stoyanoff from Yorke Peninsula are interesting additions. The Roos have lost handy defender Jack Boschen but will be looking to climb the ladder.
NARACOORTE (6th) has appointed club stalwart Zack Donnelly as non-playing A grade coach. The Demons have looked good in trials, with reigning Sunraysia league medallist Josh Gregg, ex-Padthaway and Border Districts player Andrew Cheer, Sam Gurney from South Adelaide and Brad Mitchell from Glenelg and Darwin, all looking like good pick-ups.
The Demons have lost coach Chris Ladhams as well as 2018 travelling players Nathan Davey and James Moss along with premiership player Robert Jones to Lucindale, interleague rep Fred Stephan to Nhill and Richie Pendle who has moved to Darwin, so the gains and losses look quite even.
BORDER DISTRICTS (7th) have reappointed non-playing coach Darrin Wilson for a third season and again there have been big player moves in and out. The Eagles have recruited a heap of talent including Blake and Jack Helyar, Ezrah Holland and Mark Quinn who all come with SANFL or similar experience. Unfortunately they've lost some of their better travelling players from last year including best and fairest ruckman Kurtis Phillips, Luke Bowd and Nathan McIver, but the new recruits look set to make up for them.
KYBYBOLITE (8th) has reappointed playing coach Tom Cooper. The Tigers will unfortunately start four wins behind everyone else because of their player payment penalties, and they also lose gun recruit Lochie McGregor through suspension. Long-serving backman Ray Jaensch has left for to Padthaway, as well as brothers Sean and Darcy Munn to Edwardstown, and ruckman Nick Belfield to the River Murray league. They have picked up three good players from Langhorne Creek in Scott Tonkin, Felipe Hill and Kane Rodgers.
PADTHAWAY (9th) has a new playing coach Tarak Redigolo from South Adelaide and has again recruited heavily, picking up long-time Kyby defender Ray Jaensch and promising Bordertown tall Jacob Eats from within the league. They have also gained Thomas Breynard, Matt Raitt, Josh Heading, Josh Vandermeer, Matt Caire, Michael Diestel-Fedderson and Jack Scott, mostly from Adelaide.
The Lions have unfortunately lost multiple best and fairest player Tom Edwards (Goodwood Saints), full back Tom McNamara (Strathalbyn) and top A graders Tate Michael and Bryan Leahy but should line up stronger in 2019.
KINGSTON (10th) has reappointed Brad Richardson for a third year as non-playing coach and the Saints have recruited heavily. They've picked up Jacob Fisher, Brett Simpson, Tom Rogers and Scott Mazzone from amateur league club Broadview (most ex-SANFL), Scott Newman from Henley, and Isaac Hewson and James Siviour from Norwood.
They will also have ex-locals returning in former A grader Dylan Richardson as well as senior colts premiership players Brock Kennedy, Tyson Mills and Harrison Martin. On the list of outs is goalkicking midfielder Max Wakefield, Steve Branson, Ben Kernahan, Luke Exton and Sam Foutoulis.
BORDERTOWN (11th) has reappointed playing coach Cam Sandercock. The Roosters have picked up Adelaide-based Josh Barras and Sam Underwood (both ex-Bordertown), as well as Ben Fischer and another former local, Dusty Inglis. Unfortunately they've lost travelling rover Steve Copestick, and a large number of locals, including regular A graders Angus Diment (Barossa) and Jacob Eats (Padthaway).