MPNFL Nepean Division is likely to be renamed Division Two in 2018 and Sorrento, Frankston Bombers and Rosebud will not be part of it.
Despite the fact AFL South East is still a couple of weeks away from making a decision on the new structure, it is widely tipped that the reigning premier, runner-up and third-placed Rosebud will head to Division One and that Chelsea, Karingal and Langwarrin will head to Division Two.
Let’s take a look at what clubs require heading into 2018.
Sorrento: The most important decision Sorrento needs to get right is the appointment of a non-playing coach. The Sharks have the required talent on the field with no real deficiency and will be competitive immediately with the top bracket in Division One. Former Melbourne skipper Jack Trengove has been widely tipped to go to the Sharks. The Sharks can’t afford to lose anyone though – and why would you leave? Chris Dawes owes them another year too.
Frankston Bombers: The Bombers have lost Nathan Lonie from the 2017 grand final side, which hurts the experience on the field. Two grand final losses highlight that the Bombers are off the mark. They need a couple of key forwards, as Zack Longham needs the third best defender and Beau Muston’s best is well past him. They also need to change their game style to be able to defend. They’ll get smashed with the current game plan in Division One.
Rosebud: The Buds need to recruit and hopefully, there’s some cash in the bank to get some players. Rumour is Bancroft and Spooner will retire, as will Ben Dwyer, given they don’t believe they’ve got what’s left in Division One. They’re big holes to fill. The Buds also need a key forward and key defender. They need to do everything to keep Matt Baker and get his brother Tom back, who are both being offered plenty at the club next door.
Hastings: The Blues goes into the 2018 Division Two season as flag favorites, given the top three are all going up a level. With a new coach in Ricky Ferraro, it’s believed they are keeping the large majority of the list, while also picking up some handy types, none more so that Matt Boland, who will be a star of the competition, while there’s another ex-Bonbeach forward is looking to go there.
Red Hill: The Hillmen have replaced Tony Blackford as coach after he played a major role in rebuilding the club, making it relevant again and giving it a profile. There will be high expectations on new coach Jamie Mollo. Talk already is that the likes of Ben Hughes, who got overlooked for the job, along with close mate Mitch Wallace are looking elsewhere, while Sean Marchetti is also unsettled. Blake McCormack, a popular figure at the Hill, is the front-runner for the Langwarrin job.
Dromana: The Tigers need a massive pre-season – buy-in from every player and they need to get the likes of Sam Fowler back for the season. Sam needs to dominate a senior year at local level and then go to the Dolphins with a reputation. They should get back a couple in Jack Fowler and Jackson Quigley too, while promising ruckman Majok Puok from Pines will be a good get. Coach Rikki Johnston needs to play on and Steve Hamill needs to be his right-hand man.
Somerville: The Eagles went through a rebuild of the club in 2017 and it was tough at times. The benefit will come in 2018. Andrejs Everitt is invested in the club and his experience in the AFL system will be a massive bonus for the kids. Being the runner in the U19 Grand Final was superb from him. If the Eagles can keep their list and get a couple back, together with good kids, they’ll be there again.
Devon Meadows: The Meadows had a tough season after losing a lot of players this time last season. Word from coach Glenn Michie is that a number of those players who went elsewhere or didn’t play are keen to come back. The Meadows also need to focus on getting a couple of good kids from the Cranbourne system, given there may be limited opportunities in the seniors.
Pearcedale: The Panthers can’t afford to lose one player! They showed that with a full list, they were more than competition for anyone. Coach Leigh Stewart needs to ensure they are the fittest club in the comp. Pour some resource into a fitness guru and make sure the list is cherry ripe.
Rye: Watch Rye improve! We don’t often see Rye at the bottom for two years running and with Nick Jewell there as chairman of selectors, he is pretty good at getting recruits. Rye will invest, we know that. .
Crib Point: The Magpies need attitudinal changes. The club played in a grand final less than five seasons ago but now sits at the bottom. It needs a positive attitude across the board, especially at the top. There’s some great things going on with the kids and that’s where the focus needs to be. Less negativity of what they don’t have and more focus on what they do have will turn things around quickly. A coach would help too.
Tyabb: Hearing that they did not make contact with coach Mark Paganoni for some time after the season is a disgrace. He did so much for that club both on and off the field. Perhaps the Yabbies need to stop looking at AFL South East to prop them up and save them and do something about it themselves.