Adjusting to a new league is hard enough normally, let alone trying to do so in the midst of a pandemic.
This was the situation Kaniva-Leeor United faced this year after joining the Horsham District Football Netball League from the Kowree, Naracoorte, Tatiara Football League.
In terms of wins (three) and ladder position (ninth), the on-field results are not what the Cougars would have hoped for at the beginning of season 2021.
However, their end-of-season form which saw them win two of their last three matches, coupled with some tight games early in the year, suggests they salvaged something from a year where they faced more upheaval and hurdles than anyone else.
Cougars' coach Dylan Collis said it was "tough" at the start of the season, but not just because they were in a new league.
"I think round one we had 16 players that just hadn't played together, whether it be from coming from the juniors or coming from other clubs," Collis said.
"Blokes were learning each other's names, let alone learning how each other plays.
"Towards the second half of the year, we had a lot better connection working with each other. The second half of the year was a lot better than how we started. Which was good, moving forward into next year."
Consecutive wins against Laharum and Taylors Lake in their last five games will no doubt give the Cougars confidence heading into next year.
According to Collis defence was the side's Achilles heel at the beginning of the season; something which they were able to improve on.
"There was a couple of games, I think we had the shootout earlier on in the year against Natimuk. We didn't have much trouble scoring goals obviously with big Chris up forward. But we just couldn't stop other teams scoring," he said.
The border bubble issue that plagued clubs within 70km of South Australia all season, did impact the side but didn't hurt Kaniva "as much as other teams" according to Collis.
The side did, however, appoint new senior coaches in July, after club legend Ash Grant resigned. Collis and Beau Harris then stepped into the role.
"After that, we didn't change a real lot structurally or team-wise," Collis said.
"There's not a lot that someone else could do that Ash wasn't."
Back on the field and Ex-Collingwood and Carlton forward Chris Bryan was a shining light for the Cougars slotting 45 goals from just nine games and finishing second in the league's goal-kicking charts.
Aside from the star goalkicker, Collis named a few standout players.
"Hamish Bennett's second half of the year was pretty impressive for someone that can't train because he works 80-100 hours a week," he said.
"His ruck work is unbelievable. His year was pretty good.
"Jock Maddern had a really good second half of the year.
"Carl Hausler, he's only 17 and a raw key position player that can sort of play anywhere."
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