Expect the same brand of fast football that won the Tigers a SANFL premiership in 2019, Glenelg Football Club coach Mark Stone has said, as the South Australian league kicks off with its official launch this week.

After being postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions, the brakes will be lifted this weekend with 5,000 people to be allowed at Adelaide Oval for double headers on both days.

“We feel like the game plan we put in place over the past few years is a style of footy that stands up under pressure,” Stone said.

“It stands up in big games, in finals, and we’ll go in with the same style of play this year.”

Stone, early last year, spoke about staying focussed on the task at hand, despite high expectations after a strong finish in 2018.

With a long-awaited fifth Glenelg premiership now on the mantlepiece, last year’s stakes are even higher.

“You become a bit of a benchmark, or a yardstick for teams, and when I came into the competition we did it with Sturt, as they were the reigning premiers and last year it was North Adelaide.

“The main thing you focus on is the things you can control and the people around you, and make sure you take it one moment at a time, or one game at a time.”

Australia’s largest attendances

Earlier this week, Premier Steven Marshall announced SA Police and SA Health had approved crowds of up to 5,000 at Adelaide Oval on both Saturday and Sunday — the largest crowd of any sporting event in Australia since coronavirus restrictions came into play.

But with SA to bring in phase three restrictions from Monday, SANFL chief executive Jake Parkinson is hoping attendance numbers could increase to up to 25,000 by the second round, which is to be played at Adelaide Oval on June 4 and 5.

“We’ll go through our COVID management plan with SA Health and the Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority and a determination will be made throughout next week.

“We’ll go out to all the fans then, but there will certainly be opportunity for more than 5,000 fans next week.”

SANFL CEO Jake Parkinson is hoping for even bigger crowds at Adelaide Oval for round two.(ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)

Increased rotation numbers

Unlike the AFL, which has controversially shortened its quarters to 16 minutes this year, SANFL will play full-length quarters.

It will allow for four players on the interchange rather than three, which will increase rotations from 60 to 75 — a change that was put in place before COVID-19 restrictions postponed football.

But missing will be the SANFL’s two AFL reserve sides in Port Adelaide Magpies and the Adelaide Crows after the AFL banned its footballers from playing in state competitions.

Football supporters stand on a grassy hill waving flags.
Magpie supporters will be a notable loss during this year’s SANFL season.(Facebook: The Alberton Crowd [PAFC Active Supporters], via SANFL)

“I like having them in the competition as they’re good for it, but it doesn’t necessarily dictate who will be at the top of the ladder and who won’t be,” Stone said.

“We’ll embrace it and it will be good for the competition.”

Glenelg will start the defence of its title against Norwood on Sunday, the second in a double-header clash that will see North Adelaide versus West Adelaide earlier in the day.

Saturday will see Sturt take on Central District in the first game of the season, followed by South Adelaide versus Woodville-West Torrens.

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