BAFA National Leagues Preview | Premiership North

Premier North - Oheeul Choudhury

After annihilating last season, Tamworth Phoenix will be back, cringey hashtags included, to finish what they started. Proving to be the dominant force in the North after another year of successful recruiting to strengthen an already strong roster. Even after losing key players such as Will Hobbs, Nix still have a host of talent within their line-up. Players such as Will Stone and Jake Harbon, who made their first appearances on the GB Adult team, to help keep the defence strong. Deji Alli of the Blitz joins RBs Adam Hope and Elliott Walters to aid the already high flying offence. Along with players, the Nix have added Birmingham Bulls Defensive Co-ordinator Alan Steel to their ranks to help build a strong future for the Nix. If I were a betting man, I would put my money on black (and orange).

Can anyone in the Premier North stop Tamworth Phoenix from claiming another conference crown? Image courtesy of Andy M Neale, aka Whizzyfingers

After a promising start to their Premiership career, Merseyside Nighthawks look to repeat and improve on last year’s success. Spirits are high in the Nighthawks camp and with good reason, having made the playoffs in their first season will fill the team with confidence for the season ahead. Add to that the hard work of coaches such as HC Craig Pennington and OC Joe Black Merseyside have a lot to look forward too. With strong links to LJMU Fury and Liverpool Raptors the Nighthawks have plenty of young talent to dip into to bolster their ranks. With the loss of RB Laurent Tshimanga it will be interesting to see if Daishawn Honoham and Alex Eager can have the same impact.

The Nighthawks adjusted well to life in the top tier in 2016 before coming undone by London Warriors. Image courtesy of facebook.com/merseysidenighthawks

After suffering the loss of DB Rob Worboys the Pirates had a testing season. With the experience and talent of Iain Dick, Jamie McLaughlin and James McIntosh all retiring, the Pirates enter a little bit of a rebuild this season. The team boasts a large number of rookies, six of whom have recently graduated from junior football. It will be interesting how the coaching staff at the Pirates deal with these young players. How these young bucks deal with the faster pace and physicality of the big boys will be interesting to see.

The Pirates will look to bounce back from a down year in 2016. Image courtesy of facebook.com/PiratesFootball

Another side looking to bounce back in 2017 is the Lancashire Wolverines. Lancashire have taken a ‘media blackout’ approach to the season to avoid any potential distractions, so despite our best attempts, we couldn’t obtain any information on off-season activity. Regardless, the Wolverines started well with a couple of solid years when they first moved up to the top tier, and will look to improve on their 3-7 record in 2016.

The Wolverines struggled in 2016, losing to relegated Coventry Jets. Image courtesy of Hook & Ladder Magazine.

New name, mean new team? Sheffield Giants suffered at the hands of the Nighthawks, being bailed out by the struggling Coventry. With Coventry no longer in the league and new boys Edinburgh Wolves looking to make a mark, on paper the Giants look like the whipping boys of the conference. However with good offseason recruitment and the addition of Brad Thompson Sheffield may have some fight left in them. With a new HC in the form of Toby Chesters and new blood being pumped into the team, Sam Fossey joins from the Blitz and Sam Green returns from to the UK from Florida, the Giants look to be making movements. Will they be knocking on the doors of the place offs? Only time will tell.

The Giants rebranded in the offseason. Image courtesy of facebook.com/SheffieldGiants

The new kids on the block are looking to kick ass and take names. The Edinburgh Wolves look to take advantage of the struggling Pirates and take the top spot of Scotland. It will all come down to how well the Wolves have developed over the break. Can they take their momentum forward and rock the Pirates on day one? It’ll be a tough task, as no Scottish side has beaten the Pirates in 20-odd years. That said, when the two sides scrimmaged last year, the Wolves more than held their own. They have capable offensive and defensive lines and can dominate the trenches on their day. Look to the Wolves to make the kind of impact the Nighthawks did last season.

Looking to make a splash in 2017, Edinburgh Wolves take on the Pirates in their top tier debut. Image courtesy of facebook.com/EdinburghWolves
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