Coach: Sam Bristow
2015: 17 wins, three losses (premier)
In: Sam Bristow, Joel Bristow, Sam Tudor (Maffra), Christopher Sutton (Traralgon), William Flanagan (Rokewood-Corindhap); out: Brad Caldwell (Traralgon), Jamie McIntosh (Boisdale-Briagolong), Justin Smith (TTU)
IT will be a proud day down at Moore St when the reigning premiers unfurl their 2015 flag next weekend and barring injury and unforeseen circumstances, the Blues should feature highly in this year’s finals series.
The question remains. Will they go back-to-back?
New playing coach Sam Bristow joins the club in 2016. Bristow is a 250-game veteran from Maffra who played in six Gippsland League premierships with the Eagles.
Bristow’s experience will help bolster the Blues’ defence unit. He and brother Joel will strengthen the line-up, with 2015 premiership players Tim Clarke and Andrew McQualter focussing on their VFL commitments.
Coach: Josh Stubbe
2015: 14 wins, eight losses (grand finalist)
In: Josh Neille, Daniel Murphy (Buchan); out: Adrian Cox (Boisdale-Briagolong), Jesse Bedggood, Daniel Stevens (Toora), Mathew Goodwin (East Ringwood)
HEYFIELD faces a tough opening clash when it faces Rosedale in a rematch of last year’s grand final.
The Kangaroos always field a tough squad, having been premiers in 2012 and runners-up the past three seasons. This year will be no exception.
Expect this squad, led by new coach Josh Stubbe to have a serious shake at title.
Former AFL players Damien Birss (St Kilda and Western Bulldogs) and Leigh Brown (Collingwood, Fremantle and North Melbourne) will add a lot of strength to the Kangaroos’ line-up.
Coach: Allan Chandler
2015: 14 wins, seven losses (preliminary finalist)
In: Joseph Whykes, Lucas Towns (Morwell East), Sam Mazou (Yinnar); out: Nick Campbell (Yallourn-Yallourn North), Dillon Leys (Trafalgar), James Allan (Mirboo North), Chris Weller (Neerim-Neerim South).
IT was a year of ups and downs for the Cougars in 2015.
They claimed the 2014 title when coach Allan Chandler delivered the ultimatum that nothing less than a finals berth was acceptable. In 2015, the Cougars were knocked-out of the finals race in the preliminary final by eventual runner-up Heyfield.
As often happens after a period of success, clubs can lose a bit of hunger. But Chandler is not the sort of coach who will let this team rest on its laurels.
Strengthened by recruit Lucas Towns (Morwell East), and captained by 2015 best-and-fairest Chris Williams, expect a tougher, more focussed Churchill unit in 2016.
Coach: David Piasente
2015: 14 wins, five losses, one draw (fourth)
In: Justin McLay, Tye Morrison, Bohdi Walker, Barry Parsons (Sale), Josh Tollner, Michael Walker (Stratford), Simon Jackson (Boisdale-Briagolong); out: Mitch Bennett, Hudson Holmes (Maffra), Kyle Smillie (Westmeadows), Logan Deschepper (Surrey Park), Brad Walsh (UNSW)
IT was a disappointing end to season 2015 for Sale City. After finishing only half a game behind minor premier Rosedale, the Bulldogs bowed out in straight sets in what was a poor finals performance.
The halcyon days of the 2010 and 2011 premierships seem like a distant memory now. However, 2015 club best-and-fairest David Piasente is set to take over the coaching helm in 2016 from Hayden Burgiel.
As a player, Piasente was never afraid to put his body on the line, and this is the sort of ferocity that’s needed for the Bulldogs to go better this year.
Coach: Jay Neagle
2015: 12 wins, seven losses (fifth)
In: Brendan Chapman, Mark Stolk (Yinnar), Jayden Steers (Warragul Industrials), Justin Smith (Rosedale); out: Brian Graham (Wyndham Vale), Hayden Hector, Tyler Mustoe (Traralgon), Marcus Pilgrim, Lachlan White (Morwell East), Stephen Hawkins (Benalla).
TTU will be looking to go deeper into September in 2016. The Bombers will face Churchill in round one, a rematch of last year’s elimination final.
Reeling from a first-round 2015 finals knock-out, TTU will be looking to get points on the board early in the season. The Bombers always put a strong team and certainly have a lot of depth in the playing group.
Jay Neagle will coach for his second successive season and his approach of taking the season one week at a time is beginning to produce results with this up-coming squad.
Coach: Chris Pettitt
2015: 11 wins, seven losses (sixth)
In: Jay McDonald (Calivil United), Chris Bruns (Leongatha), Matthew Sheridan, Scott Boddy, (Boolarra); out: Andrew Kiely (Devon Meadows), Lukas Jenkins), Clint Staley (Toora)
YARRAM is an improving club and the 2016 season will be a good indicator of just how far it has come.
Chris Pettitt, who will steer the club in his third season, is joined by Jay McDonald. McDonald was an Bendigo interleague representative with an impressive football CV, and this experienced leadership group should inspire the Demons to greater heights in 2016.
Jay’s wife Ash will be working with the Yarram netball squad.
The Demons face Woodside in the local seaside showdown in round one, and a win will be an important confidence boost for a team eager to see finals action in 2016.
Coach: Daniel Domaille
2015: five wins, 13 losses (seventh)
Out: Jack Whyoon (Glengarry) Kapun Morris (Queensland), Luke McLean (Noble Park), Mitchell Jones (Pearcedale), Kallan Fitzclarence (Warragul Industrials), Tom Brennan (Bairnsdale)
FOR a club facing some off-field challenges, Gormandale finished season 2015 with a respectable five wins and 13 losses.
Daniel Domaille steps up as senior coach in 2016, replacing Luke Henderson. A change at the top could be the breath of fresh air the club needs to improve its prospects in 2016, and a finals berth is not out of the question this year for the Tigers.
It will be a tough ask when the Tigers face Sale City in round one.
Coach: Brett McMaster
2015: four wins, 13 losses, one draw (eighth)
In: Tyson Siddle (Orbost-Snowy Rovers); out: Ricky Battista (Traralgon), Luke Heiser (Federal), Todd Mann (Yarragon)
AFTER knocking at the door of the finals in 2013 and 2014, it was a disappointing finish for Cowwarr in 2015, slipping back to eighth position.
On the positive side, round one is a clean slate and with matches against Glengarry and Woodside in the opening rounds, the chance to go 2-0 is feasible. New coach Brett McMaster should be drilling this into his players’ psyche before the first ball is bounced.
A more disciplined game plan could land the Saints a position in September’s action.
Coach: Gary Jones
2015: four wins, 14 losses (ninth)
In: Gary Jones (Maffra), Aiden Fitzgerald (Lucknow), Rob Michaelides, Stephen Lambert (Morwell), Ricky Benis (DWWWW), Dale Hanratty (Toora); out: Daniel Risol (Moe)
WOODSIDE faces a few on-field challenges this year after finishing second last in 2015.
It will be interesting to see how the Wildcats fare against Yarram in the Good Friday seaside showdown.
Season 2015 is history and the Wildcats must forget about the past and look to building a brighter future.
A new season, with all 10 teams starting from scratch, and some winnable games in the opening rounds; Woodside has a good opportunity to restore some much needed confidence.
Coach: Chris Day
2015: no wins, 18 losses (last)
In: Aaron Winkler (Stony Creek), Jack Whyoon (Gormandale), Darcy Hargreaves (Paynesville); out: Stuart Brooks, Bobby Marshall, Dean Pearce (Traralgon), Robert Cahill, Brock Rowson (Yarragon)
ONE should always look to the positive and remember the good thing about winning a wooden spoon is that you can’t go any lower. The only way for Glengarry this year is up.
It’s amazing how quickly one win turns into two, and then three or four. This step-by-step, week-by-week approach is what the Maggies need to turn their club around.
New coach Chris Day should focus on the one percenters: kicking, marking, handballing, and tackling. Once you get the little things right, big things start to happen and it’s remarkable how quickly everything changes. Jeremy Richards