Coach: Nick Leechino
Last season: Runner up – 15 wins, 3 losses
Round one opponent: Heyfield
THE dominant side of season 2012, the Blues’ premiership dream came crashing down in the third quarter of last year’s grand final.
The loss saw the departure of coach Damien Birss and a number of the sides’ star midfield brigade, but new coach Nick Leechino is not daunted by the rebuilding task at hand.
After a two year break from coaching Leechino takes the helm with the legacy of playing in the club’s last premiership, and has recruited well.
“We have had a few departures, pretty big ones; many know that our midfield has taken a hit which has hurt a little but I am confident that the guys that we have got to replace the void will do just as well,” Leechino said.
Having watched Rosedale from a distance in past years, Leechino knows that the current crop boasts potential and admitted it was a key selling point in his decision to take on the role.
“Losing two grand finals in the past three years… we have to continue to draw on that burning desire,” he said.
Coach: Joel Brayshaw
Last season: Second – 14 wins, 4 losses
Round one opponent: Glengarry
DUAL premiership player Joel Brayshaw takes to the helm for his first senior coaching role, marking a changing of the guard at the kennel
A seemingly endless list of departures has taken its toll but Brayshaw believes the Dogs have kept their bite if not their bark.
“We have lost a fair few, but we are confident that with the addition of a number of recruits and the depth that the club has built in the junior ranks will help fill the void and that our best footy will still see us competing with the top sides,” Brayshaw said.
Brayshaw has made sparse changes to the existing structure and has focused on tweaking elements of what has been a successful game plan.
“The foundations have been laid in recent years, however we have made a few changes that we will have to work on such as not over using the footy as much as what we have; we haven’t got the superstars this year so we need to look for a real team effort that supports one another,” he said.
“I believe that we have the ability to play finals footy and certainly that is our aim, but with such a young side you have to be prepared for the ride that we will take.”
Coach: Adrian Cox
Last season: Premiers – 13 wins, 5 losses
Round one opponent: Rosedale
ADRIAN Cox ensured his side returned to its former glory in his second year at the helm.
Holding aloft the silverware was a fitting reward following a challenging initiation to the coaching role in 2011.
Fully aware that the Kangaroos will be hunted mercilessly in the opening rounds, a realistic Cox is hopeful of hanging around the top five after recruiting well in the off-season.
“We had certain areas where we need to improve and we have targeted players to the club that can address these gaps,” Cox said.
“There were areas where we didn’t have enough depth, so to secure key position players down back in Scott Anderson and Josh Stubbe will certainly strengthen the side.
“We have some good depth at the club (and) I challenge the fringe players to continue to improve, which they have shown over the preseason, and they certainly are putting the pressure on the senior guys to work hard for their spot.”
Coach: Ryan Potter
Last season: Fourth – 12 wins, 6 losses
Round one opponent: Sale City
RYAN Potter is confident the Magpies will be near the top of the pecking order with a solid preseason behind them and a number of new recruits.
Crashing out of the premiership race in the first week of the finals spurred a big preseason effort among the list.
“The motivation is really high at the moment; for many they have (rated) losing last year’s final worse than dropping the grand final the year prior,” Potter said.
“Like every side our goal is to play finals (and) we are in fortunate position that we have been able to keep the majority of our list and we have a number of kids from our thirds list coming through the ranks who will be blooded into the senior side.”
Potter said the focus through the off-season was on small adjustments to the game plan, which will follow the same lines as 2012.
“We know that we should have done better then what we did last year, and the first five rounds of the season will provide us with a solid hit out and an indication as to just where we are at having drawn four of last year’s finalists… realistically if we broke even with our win loss ratio after round five I would be happy with that.”
Coach: Luke Cooper
Last season: Fifth – 12 wins, 6 losses
Round one opponent: Churchill
AFTER an indifferent season, Cowwarr marched up the ladder to fifth position at the end of the season proper and looked poised to upset the apple cart in the final series.
Taking all before them late in the season, the Saints fell a mere point short of a preliminary final berth.
A change at the helm sees league best and fairest winner and club stalwart Luke Cooper take over the reins from Cory Bannister.
With the list another year older the Saints know that their premiership window is right now, and with that comes the expectation of big things in 2013.
The disappointment of past seasons is still palpable and Cooper will be pushing the group to realise its potential.
The battle between the middle of the table sides, who last year made late runs towards September action, is set to spark fireworks.
Coaches: Tim Darby and Leigh McDonald
Last season: Sixth – 9 wins, 9 losses
Round one opponent: Cowwarr
IN a first for North Gippsland, perennial powerhouse Churchill has appointed two coaches with dual league best and fairest winner Leigh McDonald teaming up with Tim Darby.
“I think it can only be a positive; it’s a model that’s been used by a few clubs up in northern Victoria in the Ovens and Murray league… with a great deal of success,” Darby said.
The Cougars made it known that last year’s efforts were viewed by many as a disappointment, as the club failed to make finals in the senior competition for the first time since returning to the league in 1995.
The Cougars will view nothing but a finals berth as a pass mark at the end of the season.
With the club’s list boasting both the depth and ability to push deep into September action, expect the Cougars to have finetuned their game plan and be ready to assert their authority on the competition.
Coach: Matt Stolarczyk
Last season: Seventh – 9 wins, 9 losses
Round one opponent: Gormandale
AIMING to make a long awaited return to finals footy since the club’s 2004 premiership, former coach Matt Stolarczyk has returned to Traralgon Tyers United to address “unfinished business”.
Stolarczyk has not been backwards in implementing swift changes to position the club to break a nine year finals drought.
“I have made some early changes since taking over, among them addressing the culture of the club which has changed quite quickly,” Stolarczyk said. A number of Stolarczyk’s 2008 squad have returned to the fold under the new regime to bolster the current list.
“We needed to bring in some bigger bodied guys, along with adding some experience to the list which will complement on field leadership and aid in developing the younger players.
“The side last year had a win loss ratio of six to three after round nine; if we could be on par with that this year it would be nice, but don’t be surprised if we are none and four after five rounds.”
Coach: Daniel Sandeman
Last season: Eighth – 2 wins, 16 losses
Round one opponent: Woodside
COACH Daniel Sandeman knows 2012 was not a memorable year for Boisdale/Briagolong. The telling point for the baby Bombers was the side’s eight point loss to Woodside four games out from the end of the season.
The coach drew a line in the sand and decided to get the jump on the opposition in the competitive recruitment marketplace and preparations for 2013.
“We looked closely at the direction that club wanted to take and we acted on things early; we made a note of the key position players that we needed such as a key forward and defender and some good on-ballers and went from there,” Sandeman said. A lack of top grade experience has been patched with the recruitment of Sale premiership centre half forward John Gooch, midfielder Josh Kennedy and Maffra’s Brad Smith, James Cook and Justin Shears.
“I certainly get how far away we were last year (so) it’s great to have secured young players with senior experience who have come from a winning culture and it will certainly benefit where we aim to get to,” Sandeman said.
Coach: Luke Henderson
Last season: Ninth – 2 wins, 16 losses
Round one opponent: Traralgon Tyers United
LUKE Henderson is no stranger to Gormandale, having filled the role as assistant coach last season, and has gone about recruiting a number of former players to revive “Gormandale spirit” as head of the seniors in 2013. Welcoming the return of former captain and league best and fairest winner Daniel Domaille, along with Adam Jaensch, Brendan Solomon and Andrew Winter, the club’s depth has certainly been bolstered.
Perennial finalists over the past decade, the Tigers have failed to make an impact when it counts, and Henderson is going back to basics.
“At this early stage of the season I am being realistic, I would expect us to finish around the five to seven mark on the ladder (and) the inclusions into the side should see us being more than competitive,” he said. “The reality is that we won two games last season, and lost by some huge margins. I am confident that we can improve on our win loss ratio and begin to build a side back to where the club has been in the past contesting finals.”
Coach: Chris Pettit
Last season: Tenth – 2 wins, 16 losses
Round one opponent: Boisdale/Briagolong
CHRIS Pettit signed as Wildcats coach and was tight lipped about his new look side’s prospects for 2013.
“We’re hoping to improve, but I am not ready to make any brash statements this early on,” he said.
“Being new to the league it’s hard to know where not only we are at as a side, but where the opposition is at. When you are associated with another league you don’t tend to pay much attention to other leagues and sides.” Hitting the training track hard, the Wildcats have played an interclub along with three practice matches in the lead up to round one.
“The practice matches have been good, we have tried a few new things and played players out of position; some things have worked and some things did not,” Pettit said.
“Our hit out against Stratford was a great match, it felt like a home and away game with a fair bit of passion.”