SOUTH Colac coach Stephen Hammond has refused the tag of premiership favourite as he prepares to lead his team to back-to-back grand finals.
Reigning premier Birregurra lost 10 players over the summer, while the Roos remained relatively unchanged and shape as a genuine grand final threat after a breakthrough season last year.
High-profile recruits Jordan Murrihy and Jacob Roberts join the team after overcoming injury and teenager Alex Broomfield returns after a season with the Colac Tigers.
They replace defenders Nick Dent and Luke Mahoney as the team’s only departures, but Hammond said it was too early to label any team a premiership favourite.
“I don’t think you can say that until after every team has played each other, when you know what everyone’s got,” the second-year coach said.
“Forrest and Lorne were both good last year and both of them have picked up a few players.”
Hammond said his team had worked hard this pre-season on areas that let it down in its three-point grand final loss to the Saints last year.
The Roos showed promising signs in practice matches against Panmure and finished runner-up in a Hampden football carnival.
Injuries in the clashes took their toll on Kalen Iselt, Dave Marendaz and Jake O’Dwyer while Hammond said Murrihy, assistant coach Clay Brewer and youngster Hayden Russell would all miss round one.
“The boys are fit, we’ve had a few things to work on especially from grand final day which we’ve been working on during pre-season,” Hammond said.
“It was great to play well against some strong opposition in practice matches, so I’d be disappointed if we didn’t finish top three – but that’s without seeing the other teams.”
Hammond said the club, which fielded 38 players throughout last season, would continue to promote its junior players
with Daniel Madden, Dominic and Ash Arceri, Jordan Foley, Lachlan Karacsay and Xavier Lamanna all in the selection mix this year.
Young Roos showing promise in senior ranksby Lachlan Cowlishaw
SOUTH Colac is two days away from discovering how far its netball juniors can take the senior team.
The Roos have lost five A Grade players from last season and midcourter Emma Monteith might make six if she decides to cross to Alvie.
South Colac netball officials have spent the pre-season preparing a list of players who will hopefully help the club challenge for finals.
The list includes promising juniors Tegan McNamara, Edwina Parker and Janelle Monaghan who will join established players Nadine McNamara, Katie McDougall and Chelsea Speirs.
Defender Kym Goonan has crossed from Cobden and Torquay’s Sarah Bach will join Speirs in the attacking circle.
South Colac coach Leanne Monaghan said a practice match against Warrnambool district’s Kolora-Noorat gave the team confidence approaching the start of the season.
“That’s when I realised we actually have quite a gelled group of girls, all of them know each other quite well,” she said.
“Everyone is keen, we have juniors coming up in the list and they have the best opportunity this year to step into A Grade.”
Monaghan said the Roos knew they would need to cover the list of experienced outs ahead of a round one clash with Western Eagles.
“Those girls had sort of said before the end of last year that they weren’t able to return, that was their last hurrah last year and it was either then or never,” she said.
“We are in the process of probably rebuilding now with our juniors and I think we’ve had the best juniors probably in the league for the past few years.
“I have no reservations that they’re going to get out there and do really well.
“The aim is to get to finals and then we’ll just see what happens from there.”