By Gordon Glen Watson / asbpremiership.co.nz
HAMILTON - One year older, wiser and tougher - that's the assessment of Waikato FC coach Declan Edge as his predominantly youthful side prepare for the ASB Premiership big kick-off with Hawke's Bay United on Sunday.
Edge - who has moulded a group of youngsters into a team known for attractive, technically adept, football - has kept the squad mostly local for his second season at the helm.
"We're ok. We've got nearly a full team to pick from. We lost Tyler Boyd to the Phoenix and Jason Hicks to Auckland City, so we had to replace them - they were our firepower.
"We'll see through the season how that pans out," Edge said.
Edge has wasted no time in replacing Boyd and Hicks, with Sam Margetts back at Waikato FC following a spell with Hawke's Bay United, while Turner - surplus to requirements at Waitakere United - heads south in search of regular first team football.
"I've known Rory since he was about ten," Edge said, "he's in that age group that we started with here in Hamilton. Obviously, I've kept an interest in his development over the years, so I know him very well."
Last season, Waikato suffered from inconsistency, congruous with opting for a youth-based recruitment policy, but Edge believes the experience will stand his squad in good stead.
Even a relegation over the winter season with Melville United is viewed as a valuable experience.
"A lot of the players had a tough winter season with me at Melville - but whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, if you believe that old saying
"We're twelve months older, stronger and wiser," he said.
Looming into view for Waikato FC is a Hawke's Bay United side that has strengthened itself both on and off the pitch.
Coach Chris Greatholder has drafted in former first team coach and All White, Perry Cotton, in a move that is sure to see a return to some old fashioned discipline.
Cotton isn't one to suffer fools gladly in the pursuit of success.
On the pitch, the capture of three former Waitakere players, Sean Lovemore, Dakota Lucas and Ross Haviland, is vital, with former All Whites Cole Peverley and Jarrod Smith providing some much needed know-how and experience.
Hawke's Bay are also bouyed by the return of Stephen Hindmarch, the mercurial Conor Tinnion and skipper Bill Robertson.
Any talk of breaking the eight seasons of play-off drought are firmly on hold with the Bay finishing fifth three times and fourth in 2007/08 season where only the top three qualified.
The last time the two teams met was in Round 13 at Bluewater Stadium with the Bay winning a thrilling fixture 3-2.
Sam Margetts, Dale Higham and Danny Wilson were on target for Hawke's Bay while Tyler Boyd and Mohamed Awad notched for Waikato FC.
The action gets underway at Porritt Stadium on Sunday at 12pm.
Hawke's Bay United
Sam JASPER, Sam MARGETTS, Rory TURNER, Eder FRANCHINI, Jack HOBSON-McVEIGH, Alexi Caroama VARELA, David PARKINSON.
Dakota LUCAS, Sean LOVEMORE, Ross HAVILAND, Aaron JONES, Cole PEVERLEY and Jarrod SMITH.
Tyler BOYD (Wellington Phoenix), Jason HICKS (Auckland City)
Leon BIRNIE, Chris McIVOR, Adam CHANDLER, Matt GOULD, Shaun PETA.
Sam MARGETTS returns to Waikato FC for his second spell with the club.
Richard GILLESPIE is set to make his 80th ASB Premiership career appearance, if selected. Leon BIRNIE is not in the squad but notches a club record 30 goals in eight seasons of playing in the ASB Premiership.
Waikato FC's last win over Hawke's Bay United on home ground as a 1-0 success in Week 6 of the 2010/11 season.
Hawke's Bay triumphed in the corresponding fixture last season 4-2.
ASB Premiership - Round 1
Hawke's Bay United
Sunday 4 November, 2012
1- Matt UPTON (GK)
1- Richard GILLESPIE (GK)
2- Adam THOMAS
2- Aaron JONES (G)
4- Josh GREENE
3- Josh MARGETTS
5- Eder FRANCHINI
4- Danny WILSON
6- Sam JASPER
5- Bill ROBERTSON (c)
7- Ryan THOMAS
6- Stephen HINDMARCH
9- Rory TURNER
7- Matt HASTINGS
10- Harry EDGE
8- Cole PEVERLEY
11- Jack HOBSON-McvEIGH
9- Jarrod SMITH
14- Sam MARGETTS
10- Stephen HOYLE
15- Tyler LISSETTE
11- Conor TINNION
16- Jesse EDGE
12- Harley RODEKA
17- Mohamed AWAD
15- Ross HAVILAND
18- Alexi Caroama VARELA
16- Sean LOVEMORE
19- David PARKINSON
17- Fergus NEIL
24- Adam WALLIS
18- Dakota LUCAS
Coach - Declan EDGE
19- Rudi BAUERFIEND
22- Angus KILKOLLY (A)
23- Luke CHAPMAN (A)
24- Tui KENNEDY (A)
25- Bjorn CHRISTENSEN (A)
26- Danyon DRAKE (A) (GK)
Coach - Chris GREATHOLDER
*Players yet to be omitted.