By Jackson Russell
Whittlesea coach Blair Harvey has re-signed for the 2021 season as the Eagles return to the Northern Football Netball League’s top flight.
Harvey’s commitment to the club comes as 19 of its 22 premiership players in 2019 have also recommitted.
The Eagles were also set to sign former St Kilda defender Bailey Rice before he was picked up on a football scholarship by the University of North Carolina.
Harvey said it was a ‘no brainer’ to re-sign with Whittlesea.
“With the age group that we’ve got and the success we had last year, it was always going to be a bit of a three-year plan to get out of second div and then consolidate in division one,” he said.
While the vast majority of returning players have been locked in, the Eagles have found it hard to bring players into The Nest during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re still talking to a few, but it’s been hard because of COVID to lock anyone else away because we haven’t been able to interview guys or show them around the club,” Harvey said.
“We’re close with about three or four so we’re hoping to announce that in the next few weeks.”
Despite not having a date for preseason training to begin, Harvey said there was excitement at the club about the coming season.
“I think even though we’re looking to add some talent, we’ve got some real growth from within and we’re pushing hard for those young blokes,” he said.
“From our 19s, we’ve got 11 to come up and I expect five of those 11 to play senior football next year so we’ve got some really good depth in our younger boys and we’re hoping for them to go to the next level as well.
“We’d like to think we can be good enough to sneak in and play a final if we can, but first and foremost we need to consolidate our side in division one and work up from there.”