Season 2017 brings with it a real air of excitement.
There are four new coaches in the competition – Leigh Stewart at Pearcedale, Bevan Malloy at Somerville, Brad Arnold at Crib Point and Adrian McBean at Rosebud – all are expected to have positive impacts on their clubs.
Round 1 is mouth-watering and in many ways will tell a lot about what we can expect from teams this season.
Tyabb has the benefit of playing last week against Hastings when it faces Crib Point this week.
The Yabbies have added some talent and the Pies have lost some – mainly in ruckman James Cook.
Frankston hosts Dromana – what a great first-up game for the Tigers to see where they’re at against the side many believe are certainties for the premiership. Bombers pre-season form has been sensational, beating Frankston YCW, Mt Eliza and Bonbeeach, all Peninsula finals teams last season.
The Tigers needed some height and strength around the footy and they have been able to get that.
Pearcedale and Devon Meadows go toe-to-toe. The hoops are probably on the rise and Devon had 20-odd players apply for a clearance from their club.
Somerville, which has lost three starting forwards and three starting defenders from their best 2016 side, host Red Hill, who have recruited a couple.
Rosebud, which finished third last season, hosts the team many believe will make a significant move – Sorrento. The Buds have a new coach and that will make a significant difference. Sorrento has recruited nothing but A-Graders and will be right there when the whips are cracking.
Finally, the premiers, Hastings, who have added a couple, play host to Rye, who have lost the fab-four, as well as Brady Egan.
There’s more questions than answers as we head into Round 1, however, things should present a little clear at 5pm on Saturday.
Let’s take a look at the ins and outs.
Ins: Elliot Avis (VAFA), Mitchell Chopping (Peninsula Div), Aaron King (Hastings), Ben King (Hastings),
Outs: James Cook (Alberton), Lee Koerner (Somerville), Kain Stratton (Hastings)
The general feeling among the Magpies in 2017 under new ‘first time’ coach Brad Arnold is that kids are going to be given every opportunity.
There hasn’t been a lot of recruiting in the off-season and the loss of ruckman James Cook and run-with player Kain Stratton will be significant. Don’t expect too much ladder movement.
Ins: Matthew Italiano (Essendon FL), Allan Murray (Eastern FL),
Outs: Jack Hazendonk (Poowong), Chris Doria (Poowong), Alex Doria (Poowong), Mitch Bond (Elinbank), Rhys Shortis (Elinbank), Craig Thorne (Elinbank), Troy Aust (South East FL), Josh Stewart (South East FL), Jayden Sullivan (South East FL), Brandon Wapshot (South East FL), Corey Walker (South East FL), Brodie White (South East FL), Tyrone Achilies, Brayden Calvert (VAFA), Nathan Dumergue (Southern FL), Kai Phillipson (Southern FL), Dean Smith (Yarra Ranges), Steven Mihvec (Karingal), Chris & Andrew McInnes (Karingal), Dylan Hand (retired), Glenn Michie (retired), Steven Roberts (retired), Marcus Roberts (retired), Jack Henderson (Langwarrin).
The big story of the pre-season has been the huge amount of clearances requested from Devon Meadows. The last time we saw something like this in the MPNFL was at Karingal and they now are only getting back on their feet. Activity long before Christmas suggested then that Devon players were having meetings with other clubs and yours truly was hearing from various sources that between 10-15 players were considering a move. I was publicly smashed for sharing the information, however, it appears now that the information presented was unfortunately conservative. In further worrying news, the club was also advertising for Under 19s prior to the season. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the season is going to be a lean one.
Ins: Jacob Barker (Southern FL), Kyle Busuttil-Inglis, Ryan Smyth (Langwarrin), Cameron Carmody (Yarra Ranges), Jeremy Daniel (Tyabb), Zac Muscialli (Edi-Asp),
Outs: Rohan Bleeker (Elinbank), Christian Ongarello (YCW).
One should not underestimate the significant loss of multiple Team of the Year player Christian Ongarello. ‘Onga’ provides enormous leadership and allowed the coach Rikki Johnston to swing. They needed some support for Beau Cosson and got it in the form of Cameron Carmody. They also needed some grunt around the footy – enter Zac Muscialli from Edithvale. The Tigers will be knocking on the door again but not loud enough to break-in.
Ins: Mitch Bosward (Central Murray), Corey Buchan (Dolphins), Alex Harnett (Pearcedale), Jay Reynolds (Central Murray).
Many believe that Frankston Bombers is the flag favourite going into the 2017 season. It has recruited extremely well and the pre-season form has been faultless. Without question, on paper, the Bombers are the best side in it. There is only one way up for the Bombers and that is to go one step better. There’s no question they will have learned a lot from last season and will be better prepared.
Ins: Ricky Ferraro (Central Highlands), James Marasco (Yarra Ranges), Kain Stratton (Crib Point),
Outs: Damien Stone (Southern FL), Ben & Aaron King (Crib Point).
The Blues have added some real talent to a list that was the best side in the finals series in 2016 and ultimately won the premiership. Things clicked for the Blues in the final six weeks of the season and many say they started playing the ‘Brendan Dunne way’. 2017 is about hunger. If the hunger is still as strong to go back-to-back, they have to be the team to beat.
Ins: Billy Bryant (Colac), Caleb Cox, Harrison Thompson, Dylan Ryan, Jake Ryan (Somerville), Basil Sibasado (West Gippsland).
Outs: Alex Harnett (Bombers), Chris Irving (Red Hill), Dean Janssen (Eastern FL), Lachy Marshall (Pines).
A new coach in the experienced Leigh Stewart will bring some renewed enthusiasm. ‘Stewy’ is an experienced, tactical campaigner, however, he is also old-fashioned and a traditionalist. ‘Stewy’ won’t try and over complicate the game style and will play to his team’s strengths. Expect a more consistent Dales that will trouble some sides, however, they won’t push for a place in the top five.
Ins: Ben Hughes (Gippsland FL), Chris Irving (Pearcedale)
Outs: Harry Larwill (VAFA),
Two big ‘ins’ in Ben Hughes and Chris Irving are going to make the Hillmen a much better side. The enigmatic Harry Larwill leaves, which will rob coach Tony Blackford of a player who can play both ends. The Hillmen led the eventual 2016 premier midway through an elimination final. They should be there again, however, they will need some luck along the way.
Ins: Felix Dunn, Oliver Dunn (Ellinbank), Keiran Eddington (VAFA), Brayden Glaum (VAFA), Hamish Martin (AFL North Coast), Jake McBean (AFL Barwon), Rhys McLennan (Bendigo FL), Seth O’Reily (Central Gippsland), Ed Schellander (Essendon FL), Bart Wallace (Yarra Ranges), Tyler Sinclair (Heathcote)
Outs: Lachy Armstrong (Golden Rivers), Glen Boyington (Maryborough), Cody Mulcair (Maryborough), Nick Boswell (Pines).
The Buds have recruited quite well and will no doubt benefit from having a new coach in the very experienced Adrian McBean. The Buds have a wealth of talent and given the right direction, will have sustained success for years. Their best is potent and even under trying circumstances last season, still finished top three. The Buds are definitely part of premiership discussions.
Ins: Rhys Burns (Sorrento), Tim Churchin (AFL Cairns), Harley Cole (Sunraysia), Zac Little (Eastern FL), Jari McDonald (North Gippsland), Gabrielle Nicolla (Red Hill), Renton Sanderson (Sorrento), Dekodda Thomson-Irvin (Sorrento), Ben Trivett (VAFA), Jamie Turner (Alberton), Oscar Whitty (Mt Eliza)
Outs: Nathan Henley, Ryan Mullett, Dean Millhouse, Simon Taylor, (Southern FL), Harry Crowe (VAFA), Brady Egan (North East FL).
It’s going to be a very, very tough year for Rye. The Demons have lost the big connection in Henley, Mullet, Millhouse and Bardon and have not replaced them. Its best young talent in Brady Egan has also gone. There’s a concentration on youth at the club, which is great for the future, however, it will take time to deliver any results. There’s no way the Demons will win more than they lose.
Ins: Andres Everitt (Carlton), Lee Koerner (Crib Point)
Outs: Luke Collie (Mid-Gippsland), Calex Cox (Pearecdale), Ben Crowe (VAFA), Tom Shaw (Seaford), Adam Rose (VAFA), Dylan & Jake Ryan (Pearcedale), Caleb Cox (Pearcedale), Scott Simpson (WAFL), Michael Towan (VAFA), Todd Farrelly (retired), Luke Rowe (Overseas).
The nest is where the real interest lies. David Hirst steps aside as coach and the experienced and highly-decorated Bevan Malloy comes in, despite not coaching for a handful of years. They lose forwards Luke Rowe, Ben Crowe and Tom Shaw, as well as key defenders Todd Farrelly, Luke Collie and Scott Simpson. The Ryan’s also head to Pearcedale. Andres Everitt will be a great recruit but he can’t be everywhere. The Eagles will be the side that drops out for the expense of Sorrento.
Ins: Chris Dawes (Melbourne), Troy Schwarze (Kyabram), Daniel Grant (AFL QLD), Andrew Lovett (Sunraysia), Justin McCleary (Ellinbank), Aaron Paxton (Karingal), Leigh Poholke (Karingal),
Outs: Rob Forrest (Avon FL), Brodie Webb (Mid Gippsland),
There has been no bigger talk in the pre-season than Sorrento. Whilst the Sharks have done their very best to keep things low key, it’s hard to do so when you recruit an AFL premiership player in Chris Dawes. Poholke returns to get the third or fourth best defender, while Paxton and McLeary are recruited to strengthen the defence. Then two of the best running defenders the game has seen at local level in Daniel Grant and Troy Schwarze decide to return – and did we mention Andrew Lovett! The Sharks will be the bolter.
Ins: Jordan Alves (YCW), Michael Altenkirch (Mornington), Luke Bakker (South East FL), Jed Benham (South East FL), Nick Cox (Peninsula), Jesse Day (South East FL), Matt Grazules (South East FL), Matt Harvey-Sich (South East FL), Jarryd Hendrikx (West Gippsland), Ben Little (South East FL), Jordan Pollard (VAFA), Matt Shaw (South East FL), James Tomlinson (South East FL), Tyson Wilson (VAFA).
Outs: Adrian Clay (Maryborough), Jeremy Daniel (Dromana), Corey Buchan (Bombers).
The Yabbies have continued their successful recruiting drive in the off-season, adding young talent to ensure long-term sustainability. Coach Mark Paganoni and his support team should be commended. They have thought outside the square (Daniel Kerr against Hastings) and looked at ways to bring the right attention to the club. The Yabbies were very competitive for the most part last season and they’ll be looking to improve on that for the full season. The Yabbies will win a few games.
2017 Home & Away Ladder (Prediction): Frankston, Sorrento, Hastings, Rosebud, Red Hill, Dromana, Somerville, Pearcedale, Crib Point, Rye, Devon Meadows, Tyabb