By ZAC MILBANK
Woodville-West Torrens coach Jade Sheedy says the ”door will always be open” for Jared Petrenko to return in 2020 as the Eagles’ fan favourite remains undecided whether he will play this season.
Petrenko is refusing to rule out a comeback later this year or in 2021 after deciding to focus on his family – he and partner Jess are expecting their first child – and his working life outside of football.
Speaking on SANFL Radio, Sheedy said he had been quick to develop a strong relationship with the former Crow, who has been a major influence for the Eagles through the midfield and attack in his 116 SANFL matches.
The 30-year-old playmaker is keen to continue his presence at Oval Avenue in some capacity, potentially in a mentoring role.
But with Petrenko’s initial absence comes exciting opportunities for promising youngsters such as Lachlan Jones, Lachie McNeil and Tasmanian recruit Rhyan Mansell, who are all in the mix to face South in the Eagles’ Round 1 match on Saturday June 27 at Adelaide Oval.
Sheedy predicted defender Jones would ”go high in the (AFL) Draft” later this year such is his talent across half-back while McNeil is continuing to impress as a strong-bodied midfielder.
Aside from Petrenko and Victorian recruit Liam Buxton, all other Eagles players will line-up this season with Jake Von Bertouch potentially finding a new home in attack to support star forward Jack Hayes.
Jack Hayes could also find himself spending time in the ruck such is his supreme shape while breakout goalsneak James Rowe is being challenged to take the next step by joining Hayes in the centre square this season.
With Covid-19 restrictions to be lifted further this week, the Eagles will play an internal trial match on Friday night ahead of facing the Panthers in Round 1 and Sturt in Round 2 on Saturday July 4.