“It’s a strong A Grade competition in the RDFNL, but I think we’ll be very competitive this season.”– Jenni Wood, treasurer
WALLAN supporters could be forgiven for checking their match-day programs a little more regularly this season.
The Magpies have lost no fewer than a dozen players from last season’s senior ranks, meaning this season’s team will have plenty of fresh faces.
The departures will be felt across the board, with the likes of star forward Corey Grindlay; reliable defenders Nathan Fowler and Corey Baker; midfielders Jarryd Bonello, Ricky Schraven and Jesse Davies – the latter two former Bowen medallists; and even ruckman Will Brock set to join other clubs.
But while the departures will leave a huge hole to fill for a side that had premiership aspirations last season, Wallan president Stuart Broomfield believes the Magpies could retain their status as one of the league’s elite sides after a stellar recruiting campaign of their own.
Among the inclusions are Carlton VFL-listed tall Hayden Gill; former Brisbane Lions VFL player and ex-Wallan junior Jacob Langbourne; Mason Bowden, another former Wallan junior returning from Northern Football Netball League division one club West Preston-Lakeside; Craigeburn premiership player Josh Vilinskis; and former Romsey veteran Michael Tinkler, among others.
Providing a sense of stability will be returning coach Daniel Nolan and his panel of assistants, along with reigning Bowen Medal winner Steve Boyall, league goalkicking champ Matt Perri and captain Michael Mannix.
Broomfield said the many new faces at Wallan would make for an interesting season.
“We’ll be very different from what we were last year, but we think we’ll be pretty good,” he said.
“It’s just the way it turned out. Some of [the players who left] went to better competitions to play a higher standard of footy, and you can’t stop that.
“It’s part of footy. There’s not much you can do about it.”
Broomfield said the club would also draw on its exceptional junior depth, with a few members of last season’s under 19.5 premiership side set to be called up to the senior ranks this year.
“We’ve had five or six kids come up from the under 19s, and some of them will be pushing to play regular senior footy,” he said.
“The under 19s will be strong again. We’re getting good numbers at training – between 50 and 60 the past few weeks.”
Also sporting some fresh faces will be Wallan’s A Grade netball side, with four new players set to bolster a team that finished with 11 wins in 2022.
Club treasurer Jenni Wood said returning A Grade coach Lucas Bennett-Hullin would work goal shooter Maeve Donegan and goal attack Rebekah Konstantopoulos into the line-up in place of departed spearhead Chloe Meulenmeesters, while Teagan Walker and Amanda Rothwell-Hiscock are set to shore up the defensive end of the court.
Wood said the team had bonded quickly with its new players, impressing during a recent practice match in Torquay.
“We’re very lucky to have them. They’re friendly, lovely girls and they fit in with the team atmosphere really well,” she said.
“They’ll be good additions to the team. They’re all fitting in and started to mesh nicely.
“It’s a strong A Grade competition in the RDFNL, but I think we’ll be very competitive this season.”