The Eagles have missed the finals for the past three seasons, but a strong pre-season performance – reaching the Challenge Cup final, where they went down to a powerful Linwood combination – showed what the side is capable of under incoming coach Christian Swift.

Coach: Christian Swift

Last season: 6th (won 4, lost 10)

Pre-season: “The boys all seem keen and motivated this season, which is good,” Swift says. “Definitely happy with how the pre-season has gone. It was a good test for us on the weekend against Linwood (in the Challenge Cup final) – we almost got up.”

Key gains: Vinnie Paul (Southcity – NSW Group 9)

Key losses: Daniel Hartley (Linwood)

2016 squad: “La’a (Asi) is crook so he’s not playing at the moment. There’s been a bit of a changing of the guard, Josh (Ifopo) and TJ (Tristan Jackson) have come through the grades at Aranui. Kolone (Faalilo) had an operation but he came back last week, so that’s good. Vinnie Paul has come back from Australia – he’ll be a good asset to get back.”

Goals: “We know we’re capable of being in the top four, we’ve just got to make sure there’s consistency every week and we’re putting the effort in. Other years we’ve fallen away in the fallen away in the final parts of the game, or the first half, and teams have slapped points on us. We try and come back in the last minute, which is too late. This year, our fitness is a lot better and we’re just trying to play 80 minutes of football really.”

Round 1: v Linwood Keas @ Wainoni Park 1, Saturday 2:30pm –“It should be another good game – it was certainly physical on the weekend. Hopefully it will be another good one. (For us) it’s about the one-percent stuff and not making as many errors, because we did make a few last Saturday. But it was pre-season, so we’re still trying to gel and get our unity together. We’re getting there.”

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