Vikings captain Sam Wicks gets airborne for a lay-up during the Frigid Air Sunshine Basketball Conference final between Grafton Vikings and Ballina Breakers at the Grafton Sports Centre.
Vikings captain Sam Wicks gets airborne for a lay-up during the Frigid Air Sunshine Basketball Conference final between Grafton Vikings and Ballina Breakers at the Grafton Sports Centre. Matthew Elkerton

Vikings on the charge for season opener

BASKETBALL: A new-look Grafton Vikings will kickstart its Sunshine Conference title defence this weekend against old rivals Byron Bay Beez at the Grafton Sports Centre.

Former player Nathan Martin has swapped the kicks for the clipboard as he takes the reins coaching the side, while they have also lost the experience of Dan Boorman and Nathan Earp.

Vikings captain Sam Wicks said pre-season had felt a bit different, but the side's focus was squarely on making it back-to-back conference titles.

"Losing the older blokes has changed a bit of the dynamics - it has meant we are less experienced and training has been a little less vocal,” he said.

"But the guys coming in know what is at stake and what we are coming to do.”

The Vikings have picked up the services of Yamba's Jack Roberts-Field, who was one of the Beez best in 2017. Zac Clark will also make the switch from the Vikings Under 18s ranks to the senior side for this season.

"It will be a different style that we play this year under Nath,” Wicks said. "He has brought in a few new drills to the side, and a few new ways we will target certain teams.

"I think a lot of it will be the same as before, but there might just be enough difference there to throw a few teams.”

The Vikings have already tasted action on court this pre-season losing in the grand final of the Sunshine Conference Pre-Season Carnival at Lismore last month.

Taking a squad of only nione players including emerging juniors Kyle Bruntner and Harry Ashenden, Wicks said he was proud of his side to make the final but doubted it would have too much impact on the season proper.

"It is hard to get a read on where we are at from just that tournament,” he said. "It gave us a bit of a look at what things will now look like on the offence, but there are a few players who will still make a big difference.”