2021 Season Preview
Coach: Joel Mackie
2019: 1st (14-3-1 home and away)
Gains: Joel Mackie (Albury), Hayden Armstrong (Ainslie), Jed Griffin (Rutherglen), Guy Ward (North Wagga), Jamie Parr (knee)
Losses: George Alexander (Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong), Brad Boots (retired)
Who has come out of COVID flying on the track: Connor Galvin enhanced his reputation in 2019 and the early indications are he has taken his game to another level. Ovens and Murray clubs have tried to lure him away from Osborne but come up short.
What’s in store: How much of an advantage did Osborne gain from playing last season? The experience of playing in the AFL Riverina Championship certainly would have helped the Tigers’ youngsters while their senior players won’t have to worry about being struck down by injury after being out of the game for too long. Osborne has taken no risks with Jamie Parr’s return from a knee injury while Hayden Armstrong is primed to make a much bigger impact than he did in the Hume league for Rand-Walbundrie several years ago. Will start short-priced favourites for back-to-back flags.
Coach: Kade Stevens
2019: 2nd (14-4)
Gains: Harry Weaven (Lavington), Brodie Parr (Albury), Ben Paddle (Blacktown), Damian Cupido (Corowa-Rutherglen), Willson Mack (Wangaratta)
Losses: John-Roy Williams (knee), Nico Sedgwick (Lavington), Craig Taylor (Thurgoona), Luke Schilg (retired), John Spencer (North Wangaratta)
Who has come out of COVID flying on the track: Willson Mack has given himself every chance to have a big season while Brodie Parr and Tyson Neander are also in good shape. Youngster Coby Eastick has trained strongly and could also be pressing for senior football.
What’s in store: The Saints were desperate for a forward after losing the 2019 grand final to Osborne and have had their prayers answered by signing Damian Cupido. It’s hard to imagine Cupido not being a reliable avenue playing one-out deep in attack with Darcy I’Anson and company driving the ball forward. Will miss the midfield drive of John-Roy Williams, Nico Sedgwick and Luke Schilg, but Kade Stevens is fortunate to have good depth at his disposal.
Coaches comments: “We’ve put in the work and now have to pull it all together,” coach Kade Stevens said.
Coach: Craig Bosley
2019: 3rd (14-4)
Gains: Marcus Roberts and Luke Bokic (Chiltern), Isaac Campbell (Griffith), Sam Welsh (Mt Pleasant), Max Grintell (North Albury), Nick Wright (CSU), Ben McCarthy (Border-Walwa), Hayden Hamilton (Wodonga Saints), Jackson Frohling (Lavington), Jack Chesser and Xavier Cannizzara (Wodonga Raiders)
Losses: Caleb Simmonds (retired), Jye Shields and Tim Hallinan (Western Australia), Tim Haines and Joel Merkel (Wodonga Raiders), Jamie Robbins and Adam Eady (retired), Denis Pedemont
Who has come out of COVID flying on the track: It might surprise a few but Adam Prior is flying. The big forward has lost weight and looks set to be a handful for opposition defences.
What’s in store: While the Lions would have struggled if football was played last season, they have picked up a handful of key players over the past few months to emerge as a finals smoky. Coach Craig Bosley has high hopes for Chiltern pair Marcus Roberts and Luke Bokic while Isaac Campbell was a strong performer for Griffith in 2018 and 2019. Can set up the season with wins over Jindera and Murray Magpies in the opening two rounds.
Coaches comments: “We’re much better placed than 12 months ago and I’m confident we will surprise a few,” coach Craig Bosley said.
Coach: David Miles
2019: 8th (9-9)
Gains: David Miles (North Albury), Hamish Clark and Ash Murray (Bullioh), Clint Brunnenmeyer (Mayne), Bill McCormick and Manny Hughes (Rutherglen), Jesse Johnson (Thurgoona), Steve Fouracre (Federal), Toby Pargeter (year off) Todd McNamara (Holbrook), Dave Goodwin (Chiltern), Dylan Cook (Cor-Ruth), Sasha Newham (Wod Raiders), Jaiden Hicks (Murray Magpies), Alex Brouwer, Tyler Lampe, Dane Keenes, Brad Farrugia
Who has come out of COVID flying on the track: Blake Williams, Dylan Cook and Ben Baker have been leading by example and hardly missed a session.
What’s in store: Howlong showed promising signs defeating Thurgoona and will take on The Rock-Yerong Creek in their final practice match this weekend. Any midfield boasting David Miles, Dylan Cook, Ben Baker, Matt McDonald and Hamish Clark commands respect, while Jesse Johnson and Ash Murray shape as handy focal points.
Coaches comments: “We had a great pre-season camp locally, focusing on building connection and enjoying our footy,” coach David Miles said.
Coach: Mitch Carroll
2019: 9th (8-10)
Gains: Graham O’Connell (Coleambally), Dwayne Weetra (Coleambally) Matt Reynolds (Perth Colts) Seth and Noah Vennell (The Rock-Yerong Creek) Matt Endresz (retirement) Michael Coholan (Gaelic football)
Losses: Neil Irwin (Queanbeyan), Sean Wilkinson (AFL Canberra), Nic Taylor and Nic Shephard (posted)
Who has come out of COVID flying on the track: Andrew Emery, Zac Gooden and Harrison Brown have been leading the way. Emery, in particular, has never been fitter and looks set for a big season.
What’s in store: The Demons were in finals contention for a long time in 2019 before folding late and they must be a chance again. Lack some height but Jordan Harrington leads a smart midfield who will be particularly dangerous at Lockhart.
Coaches comments: “Everyone is up and about after a year off footy. I’m looking forward to seeing the development of some of our juniors who are on the cusp of regular senior footy,” coach Mitch Carroll said.
Coach: Matt Sharp
2019: 4th (10-7-1)
Gains: Cal Langlands, Justin Bishop and Connor Smith (North Albury), John Mitchell (Albury), Luke Gestier (Wagga Tigers), Logan Hamilton (Lavington), Hayden Smith (Jerilderie), Alec Sullivan (overseas), Ben Griffiths (returning to football), Gus Keogh (year off), Nick Locke, Sam Joyce, Bailey Churchill, Matt Bender
Losses: Sam Harris (Benalla), Josh Jones (Tamworth), Ben Talarico (Wangaratta Rovers), Aaron Baker (Tallangatta), Isaac Lampe (Lavington), Andrew and Brendan Dess (Canberra and Melbourne)
Who has come out of COVID flying on the track: Speedy wingman Corey McCarthy appears set to take his game to another level and could easily find himself as the Brookers’ No.1 rover.
What’s in store: The Brookers tick a lot of boxes and look the side most likely to challenge Osborne.Along with Jindera, Culcairn and Henty, haven’t been able to train on their home ground over pre-season due to major ground resurfacing.
Coaches comments: “Our numbers are good. Hopefully some of the boys who played in the 2019 third grade premiership can push up,” coach Matt Sharp said.
Coach: Lucas Mellier
2019: 5th (11-7)
Gains: Aydan Brown, Mark Haydon, Jake Bruce, Luke Gerecke, Charlie Williams, Lucas Mellier (Thurgoona), Ben Hunt (Geelong), Nick Shelley (Heidelberg), Matt Robertson (Lavington)
Losses: Myles Aalbers and Justin Gordon (retired), Luke Bennie (Thurgoona), Jeremy Duck (Queensland), Ryan Lavery (Mazenod), Jack Takle
Who has come out of COVID flying on the track: Diminutive forward Blake Lieschke has been appointed co-captain with Chris Duck and has been one of the leaders on the training track.
What’s in store: The Giants look well equipped, particularly in defence, with Mark Haydon, Luke Gerecke and Nick Shelley arriving to support the likes of Bernie Lieschke and Tom Holman. Myles Aalbers will be sorely missed and coach Lucas Mellier will be hoping Ben Hunt and Jake Bruceare able to kick 30-plus goals each. Youngsters Nathan and Hayden Wardius, Jack Kotzur and Jake Thomas are likely to play senior football at different stages.
Coaches comments: “Our practice match form has been good with a few of the younger blokes stepping up,” coach Lucas Mellier said.
Coach: Jason Kerr
2019: 6th (10-8)
Gains: Dylan Flanagan (Mulwala), Mick Hamilton
Losses: Bronson Schofield (Yarrawonga), George Sandral (Corowa-Rutherglen), Harry Stonnill (Jerilderie), Cal Dunstan and Riley Kerr (Thurgoona)
Who has come out of COVID flying on the track: Dom and Xavier Buntin are on course for good seasons, while Zac Packer is a chance of playing senior football.
What’s in store: The Crows may have lost some of the trimmings but the nucleus remains intact. Jason Kerr still has the likes of the Austins, John Simpson, Michael O’Riordan, Nick Brockley and Zac Kerr at his disposal and that spells trouble for opposition teams.
Coach: Heath Ohlin
2019: 7th (10-8)
Gains: Brayden Skeers (North Wagga), Seamus Quinn (Barnawartha), Sam Scott and Dylon Simpson (Rutherglen), Liam Sweeney and Daniel Terlich (CSU), Hamish Ross (Deniliquin), Dylan Hore (TRYC), Josh Spencer, Beau Connell and Ben Terlich (out of retirement)
Losses: Damian Cupido and Chris WIllis (Corowa-Rutherglen), Simon Hillier (Mitta United), William Farrer (Broome), Kim Kantilla (Gippsland), Jono Male (MCUE), Jared Brennan and Joel Price (Violet Town), Harry Nunn (Tumbarumba), Daniel Cox (Chiltern)
Who has come out of COVID flying on the track: Dylan Hore has always had talent and he’s given himself every opportunity to maximise it by putting in a big pre-season.
What’s in store: Unlike previous years, the Swampies will virtually have a free hit in 2021 with some big-name players departing. They will bank heavily on locals withTyson Muller one of several youngsters to put his hand up. Muller kicked six goals in a practice match against Tallangatta recently and is set to spearhead the attack.
Coaches comments: “I’ve been stoked with the pre-season,” Heath Ohlin said. “There are no expectations on us and people aren’t saying we need to win 15 or so games.”
Coaches: Mick Collins and John Pratt
2019: 10th (4-14)
Gains: Corey Smith (Moyhu), Josh Holding (South Mildura), Ryan Cannon (Howlong), Jack McCann (Bendigo), Cody Kuschert and Sam Haigh (Corowa-Rutherglen), Sam Ferguson and Jeremy Stevenson (Rennie), Josh Mercieca (North Albury), Liam McDonnell (Geelong), Jason O’Rourke (North Wangaratta)
Losses: Cody Howard (Corowa-Rutherglen), Matt Howard (Thurgoona)
Who has come out of COVID flying on the track: Sam Ferguson and Tom Webb are up and about and should give the Power plenty.
What’s in store: The club will field its best rounded side since making the finals under Damian Payne several years ago. Co-coaches Mick Collins and John Pratt have added depth, plus some genuine class in assistant-coach Corey Smith.
Football manager’s comments: “We’re really pleased with the list the club has been able to put together,” Paul Rippingale said.
Coach: Andrew Wilson
2019: 11th (3-15)
Gains: Ben Dower and Rhys Preston (Mitta United), Daniel Middleton (Labrador), Sam Crawshaw (shoulder), Jack Bolton (Melbourne), Tim D’Arcy (Kiewa-Sandy Creek), Michael Blomeley (King Valley), Bailey Hosie (North Albury)
Losses: Harry Weaven and Alex Takle (BB Saints)
Who has come out of COVID flying on the track: Sam Crawshaw is back on deck following a bad run with injuries, while veteran backman Tom Weldon is super fit after branching into triathlons.
What’s in store: The Bulldogs have worked hard to lure former players back to the club with Andrew Wilson securing former skipper Danny Middleton, Ben Dower, Rhys Preston, Tim Darcy and Michael Blomeley. Mitch Lawrence, who has won the club’s past two best and fairests, has done a pre-season for the first time in several years and could take his game to another level.
Coach: Brett Argus
2019: 12th (0-18)
Gains: Couper Smith (Howlong), Jason Hines and Daniel Jackson (North Albury), Spencer Jones, Nicholas Ferguson and Peter Falkner (Albury), Rhys Evans (Queensland), Matt Kendall (Wodonga Saints), Jake Mitchelson (Lavington), Jeff Quinn, Cooper Maher (Narrandera), Reilly Mitchell (Bathurst), Blake Ryan (Lavington), Nathan and Jamie Woods (Chiltern), Ben Hindhaugh (VAFA)
Losses: Daniel Maher (Rennie), Tristan Golding (Tumbarumba)
Who has come out of COVID flying on the track: Josh and Logan Martin, Spencer Jones and Peter Falkner have been the pacesetters at Urana Road Oval.
Coaches comments: “Everyone is loving being back in a club environment,” coach Brett Argus said. “The guys have worked hard and it’s an exciting place to be at the moment.”