By Hayley Wildes
The Dandenong Stingrays are absolutely flying in season 2018. Sitting on top of the ladder, they’re the talk of TAC Cup footy.
Co-captain Campbell Hustwaite – who shares the reigns with Mitch Riordan – gave an insight into the Rays stunning season thus far.
“It’s probably a credit to how deep we are as a team. We’ve had players come in and out, but we’ve also been able to bring players in who have played roles just as well, if not better, than some of the players that have been out,” he said.
The depth of the team has been challenged greatly throughout the season due to varying reasons and with the Under 18 National Championships being played recently, the Rays have had to play without a handful of their best players for a portion of the season.
Bailey Williams, Zac Foot, Toby Bedford, Mitch Riordan and Sam Fletcher have all missed a number of games because of Vic Country commitments, while Riley Bowman, Hayden Young and Will Hamill are among others to have missed TAC Cup games due to representing Vic Country.
Hustwaite knows better than most what the Rays incredible development program can do for players and this is ultimately driving team success.
“The way the place runs, the coaches just want to make every individual better,” he said.
“It’s obviously helped me and every other player on the list and individual progress benefits the whole team.”
Running out as captain of the Stingrays is something that Hustwaite doesn’t take for granted. He says leadership came naturally to him after captaining sides in juniors at Rosebud.
“Coming in as a bottom-ager, playing pretty early in the season, I didn’t feel the need to just be a background player, so I used my voice from the start,” he said.
“Everyone is happy to take on what I say and it’s awesome, it’s what that team comradery is built around, just being able to take on everything said.”
With the ruthless brand of football the Rays are playing, along with the incredible depth and comradery within the group, Dandenong is marching towards a deep finals run and maybe, just maybe, they can claim the club’s maiden TAC Cup premiership.
What would it mean to Hustwaite to co-captain the Rays to a premiership?
“It’s one of the things that I’ve had pencilled into my mind since the start of the season,” he said.
“Having the co-captain tag with Mitch Riordan, we just want to make history and it would be pretty special to captain the Stingrays to their first premiership.”