Clubs ready for season opening

WITH the Golden Rivers Football League season to start in eight days' time, SCOTT BOURNE has looked at which players have left or signed on to play for the nine clubs in 2014, as well as how clubs may fare during the opening month of matches.


Ladder position in 2013: Ninth

Coach: Peter Lewis (new)

IN: Simon Bunyan (Tyntynder), Ben Connor (Deniliquin),Matthew Gordon (Hillston), Scott Howard (Deniliquin Rovers), Peter Lewis (Deniliquin Rovers), Daniel Liefting (Deniliquin), Ned Mabon (Redan), Angus McSweyn (Skipton), Charles Morgan (Colbinabbin - pending), Mark Rourke (Deniliquin Rovers).

OUT: Daniel Green (Elmore), Benjamin Jasher (Ashwood), James McInerney (Mitta United), Joel Newnham (Wodonga Rovers), Daniel Newton (Elmore), Tim Porter (Ararat), David Reardon (Mathoura), Ricki Waters (Echuca United), Brett Weldon (Mathoura).

After what many Hay personnel described as the "year from hell" in 2013, this season looks set to be one of rejuvenation for the club.

Peter Lewis will lead a side full of confidence and eager to begin a journey back to the top half of the ladder.

With the likes of Simon Bunyan and Ned Mabon returning home, as well as recruits from Deniliquin, the Lions' aim to regain respect within the competition is on track.

Opening month: Hay's first win since August 2012 could come next weekend against Moulamein - the club's best chance of a win in the opening month of the season.

The Lions play last year's top three sides following the opening round match, with these games to provide the club a guide of where they are in the competition.

Season prediction: 6th-9th


Ladder position in 2013: Sixth

Coach: Leon Opie (new)

IN: Daniel Coates (Cohuna Kangas), Brendan Coyle (Leitchville/Gunbower), James Curnow (Kyabram), Shaun Deppler (Leitchville/Gunbower - pending), Anthony Free (Cohuna Kangas - pending), Hayden Prout (Leitchville/Gunbower), Wayne Theobald (Moyhu - pending), Brady Walerys (Leitchville/Gunbower - pending), Ashley Waterson (Cohuna Kangas - pending), Regan Williams (Cohuna Kangas), Joel Woolhouse (Cohuna Kangas).

OUT: Corey Hird (Lancaster), Adam Knight (Richmond Central), Michael Liverton (Lancaster), Levi Love (Rochester), Jake Martin (Waaia - pending), Matthew Martin (Echuca United - pending), Daniel Needs (St Arnaud - pending), Stephen Pearce (Echuca - pending), Brendan Reiffel (Kerang - pending), Nelson Rush (Cohuna Kangas).

After missing out on the finals last year for the first time since 2010, Macorna has enticed a number of young footballers to the club this season.

The Tigers' close proximity to Cohuna has seen Central Murray Football Netball League grand final players Daniel Coates and Regan Williams join Anthony Free, Ashley Waterson and Joel Woolhouse in leaving the Kangas for the GRFL club.

These players, as well as Brendan Coyle (Leitchville/Gunbower) will cover the loss of Corey Hird, Michael Liverton and 2012 GRFL goalkicking award winner Daniel Needs, as well as provide back-up for Macorna captain Wayne Mitrovic.

Opening month: Macorna could be sitting in the top two by the end of round four, thanks to its scheduled matches.

The Tigers take on Murrabit in round one, before hosting Quambatook, travelling to Moulamein and playing Wakool.

Last season's campaign was railroaded with a poor start to the year, but Leon Opie's side could realistically be 2-2 or 3-1 by the end of round four.

Season prediction: 3rd-6th


Ladder position in 2013: Eighth

Coach: Craig Burrell (returning)

IN: Toby Bookham (Mallee Eagles), Meshack Dickson (Ali Curung - pending), Christopher Domaille (Tooleybuc/Manangatang), Jesse Hilton (Woorinen), Lachlan Hilton (Woorinen), Nathaniel Liersch (Henty - pending), Jordy McInnes (Woorinen), Charlie Mertz (Swan Hill), Tyson Spinks (Tooleybuc/Manangatang), Ryan Standen (Tooleybuc/Manangatang), Jai Wright (Woorinen).

OUT: Jamie Astall (Ultima), Daniel Bolton (Ultima), Jacob Fifita (Woorinen), Chad Frost (Minyip Murtoa), Luke Henery (Wakool), Timothy Hermans (Mathoura - pending), Jacob Lucas (Woorinen), Mitchell McGowan (Koondrook/Barham), Damien Millard (Dartmoor), Majok Monydhot (Morwell East), John Piriana (Elmore), Jamie Shields (Mathoura), Daniel Valvo (Elmore), Paul Valvo (Elmore).

Moulamein's depth will be tested during the season, thanks to more people leaving the club compared to those signing on.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 14 former Swans - including the Valvo brothers (Elmore), Jacob Fifita (Woorinen) and Daniel Bolton (Ultima) - have left, with Craig Burrell's team signing 11 new players.

The majority of the Swan's new players come from the CMFNL, bringing experience that will help the club's younger players.

Opening month: Moulamein's finals hopes will hinge on the opening four rounds of the season.

With matches against the four other teams that did not make last year's finals, Craig Burrell's men must win at least two games to stay in touch with the top group.

The club's best chances of wins would be against Hay in round one and Murrabit in round four, with games against Wandella (away) and Macorna (home) scheduled in between.

Season prediction: 7th-9th


Ladder position in 2013: Seventh

Coach: Nathan Henry (returning)

IN: Brett McCombe (Mallee Eagles), Matt Penny (Rochester), Callan Randall (Lockington Bamawm United), Brady Rowan (Golden Square).

OUT: Luke Hollis (Calivil United).

Murrabit has been able to retain its full senior side from 2013 - a boost for the club's bid to return to the top four after missing out last season.

Nathan Henry's team has recruited four new players, all who played reserves for their former clubs.

The Blues' depth in the reserves will also be an asset in 2014, thanks to the players who helped the club win the 2013 seconds flag.

Opening month: The opening month of the season will be critical to Murrabit's finals hopes.

The side hosts Macorna in round one, before observing the bye, travelling to Quambatook then playing Moulamein at home.

With a horror three weeks to follow against the top three sides of 2013, the Blues need to win at least two of their opening three games to be in touch with the top four.

Season prediction: 6th-8th.


Ladder position in 2013: Preliminary finalists

Coach: Scott Mathiske (returning)

IN: Sean Bedggood (Mallee Eagles), Brandon Beggs (Nyah-Nyah West United), Jack Charleson (Tooleybuc/Manangatang), Brendan Crabbe (Woorinen), Jamie Crabbe (Woorinen), Alex Free (Nyah/Nyah West United), Kallen Heslop (Tooleybuc/Manangatang), Luke Kerr (Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers), Jordan Matthews (Rupertswood), Aiden McGrath (Macedon), Justin O'Bree (Nyah/Nyah West United), Kiel Tripcony (Lake Boga - pending).

OUT: James Barker (Hawthorn AFC - pending), Shan Coffey (retired), Sam Goldsmith (Donald), Daniel Sydes (Nyah/Nyah West United - pending), Nathan Whiterow (Donald).

Nullawil's midfield and forward units have been boosted during the pre-season, thanks to some key signings.

Jamie Crabbe and Kallen Heslop will give coach Scott Mathiske extra options in the middle of the ground, whilst the return of Sean Bedggood will give the Maroons' forwards extra confidence.

The only major pre-season losses were premiership defender Shan Coffey, Sam Goldsmith - who was one of the Maroons' many options in front of goal - and midfielder Daniel Sydes.

Opening month: The Maroons face a difficult start to the season, playing last year's grand finalists in the opening two rounds.

Scott Mathiske's men travel to Wakool in round one to take on the reigning premiers, with the club to host Ultima in round two.

The side has round three off, then travel to Hay in round four.

If the Maroons finish the opening month with a 3-0 record, it would be a significant boost to the club's premiership chances.

Season prediction: 1st-4th


Ladder position in 2013: Semi-finalists

Coach: Paul Messer (returning)

IN: Joshua Cameron (Lake Boga), Tobie Cameron (Lake Boga), Jac Farrow (Lake Boga - pending), Jarara Jackomas (North Cairns - pending), Dylan McGrath (Kerang), Kameron Ritchie (Boort - pending).

OUT: Josh Blair (Belmont Lions), Brad Canning (Belmont Lions), Lachlan Cook (St Arnaud), Luke Flanagan (Dartmoor), Kyle O'Connor (Tyntynder), Jason Robertson (Kilburn).

Embarking on the second season of its three-year plan to become a long-term finals side, Quambatook is been able to hold onto the majority of its 2013 squad.

The club has lost Josh Blair and Brad Canning, but the return of Joshua and Tobie Cameron from Lake Boga, as well as the recruitment of ruckman Dylan McGrath from Kerang, should help to cover these losses.

Opening month: Quambatook could be at least 2-1 at the end of round three thanks to its opening to the season.

The Saints host Wandella, travel to Macorna and play Murrabit in the opening rounds, with the bye in round four.

The biggest test will be against Macorna - a side that has the capacity this year to make a return to the top four.

Season prediction: 3rd-6th


Ladder position in 2013: Grand finalists

Coach: Luke O'Toole (returning)

IN: Jamie Astall (Moulamein), Daniel Bolton (Moulamein), Kyle Brasser (Tyntynder), Corey Frost (Tyntynder), Benedict Mahon (Laharum - pending), Michael Seton-Stewart (Tyntynder).

OUT: Nathan Boyd (Essendon Doutta Stars), Zachary Haywood (Western Eagles - pending), Branden Smith (Balranald - pending), Trent Webb (Nilma Darnum - pending).

Ultima has added depth to its 2014 list, with the club poised to go one step further than last season.

The Roos have brought Jamie Astall and forward Daniel Bolton across from Moualmein, with Kyle Brasser leading a band of recruits from Tyntynder.

Former Roos midfield/forward Ben Mahon, who played with the club in 2010 and has been an assistant coach at Horsham and District side Laharum, will return to Ultima this season.

Opening month: Ultima could be 3-0 at the end of round four, thanks to how the 2014 draw has panned out.

The Roos will sit out round one, before travelling to Nullawil, hosting Hay and playing Wandella.

The biggest test Luke O'Toole's men will face will be against the Maroons - another side striving for the top two.

Season prediction: 1st-4th


Ladder position in 2013: Premiers

Coach: Locky Gleeson (new)

IN: Conlan Gunn (Greensborough), Luke Henery (Moulamein), Troy Morris (Mulwala), Michael Morson (Chelsea Heights), Bronson Wheatley (Lalor), Paul Wheatley (Langwarrin).

OUT: Stephen Arthur (Elmore), Joshua Barnes (Elmore), Ben Jones (Tooleybuc/Manangatang), Craig Lashbrook (Elmore), William Membrey (Koondrook/Barham), Lee Pollock (Leitchville/Gunbower), Lee Solar (Elmore), Tim Sparey (Mathoura - pending), Tyson Webb (Koondrook/Barham).

Wakool's bid for consecutive GRFL premierships has not been rocked by off-season movements.

The Hawks have lost eight players from its 2013 list - headed by premiership ruckman Lee Pollock, midfielder Ben Jones and forwards Tim Sparey and Tyson Webb - but the club has worked hard to bring new players to the fold.

Former Melbourne footballer, Paul Wheatley will play in the forward half of the ground, with Conlan Gunn - regarded by the Northern Football League as one of its best Division One midfielders during the past two seasons - joining Michael Morson and Bronson Whetley to provide greater depth for coach Locky Gleeson to pick from.

Opening month: Wakool's goal for back-to-back premierships could get off to a perfect start thanks to an ideal opening to the season.

The biggest challenge Locky Gleeson's men will face will be against Nullawil in the opening round, with a trip to Hay to follow on April 12.

However, the club would not want to take its round three and four matches against Wandella (home) and Macorna (away) for granted, with these clubs keen for an upset result.

Season prediction: 1st-4th


Ladder position in 2013: Fifth

Coach: Blake Anderson (returning)

IN: Shannon Burton (Kerang - pending), Nicholas Decicco (Leitchvile/Gunbower - pending), Zac Dye (Leitchvile/Gunbower - pending), Brodey Faley (Charles Sturt University - pending), Callaghan Gray (Kerang), Brian Minogue (Boort - pending), Jonty Taylor (Kerang - pending).

OUT: Cameron Moore (North Bendigo), Tim Robinson (Kerang).

Wandella is set to blood a large number of younger footballers into the club during season 2014.

As well as its 2012 and 2013 under 17.5 premiership players, the Bombers have Leitchville/Gunbower recruits Nicholas Decicco and Zac Dye, as well as a number of younger players from Kerang, eager to wear the black and red stripes in the seniors this year.

Former Bomber ruckman, Brodey Farley will also return to the club this year.

However, Wandella will go into season 2014 without two major contributors - Cameron Moore and Tim Robinson.

The loss of Robinson is massive, with the former coach and premiership defender used in the centre in 2013.

Opening month: Wandella's opening month of the season can be split into two halves - a fortnight that could result in two wins, and two weeks of tough matches.

The Bombers take on Quambatook and Moulamein in the opening fortnight, with Blake Anderson's men capable of at least one win out of these matches.

However, matches against Wakool (away) and Ultima (home) in the following weeks could see the club with a 1-3 record at the end of round four.

Season prediction: 5th-7th

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