Gippsland League season preview

Coach: Wayne Butcher

2015: 16 wins, five losses (preliminary finalist)

In: Lachlan Channing, Jarryd Clohesy, Kaine Allen (Stratford), Mitchell Bennett (Sale City), Daniel Kosky (Boisdale-Briagolong), Aaron Spencer (ADFA, ACT), Jesse Oldham (Waverley Blues), Brady Cronin (Monash Blues, VAFA); out: Darren Sheen (Narre Warren), Sam Bristow, Sam Tudor, Joel Bristow (Rosedale), Ben Batalha, Sam Bedggood (Boisdale-Briagolong), Gary Jones (Woodside), Joel Lambourn (Queensland), Jake Roe-Duggan (Ouyen United)

WITH some key players having left the nest, Maffra is set to give its youngsters a chance this year.

Wayne Butcher will continue as Eagles coach, hopeful of making up for a disappointing finals demise. After finishing the home-and-away season in second place, the Eagles lost two of their three finals matches, with their run ending in the preliminary final.

The Eagles will have void to fill in attack with Darren Sheen, who kicked 304 goals in three seasons at the club, returning to Melbourne. Helping to fill the gap is the recruiting of Mitch Bennett, who is coming off 45 and 57-goal seasons for Sale City.

The Eagles have been bolstered by the inclusion of Stratford premiership players Lachlan Channing, Jarryd Clohesy and Kaine Allen.

Veteran defender Sam Bristow is now coaching Rosedale, having taken brother Joel and Sam Tudor with him. Gary Jones is coaching Woodside.

Adrian Burgiel will return to the Eagles’ coaching staff after two years leading Moe.

Maffra’s premiership success in the reserves highlights the depth the club has.

Coach: Shane Fyfe

2015: 10 wins, nine losses (fifth)

In: Michael Todd (Croydon), Tim Dimarco (Sale City), Jason Garrett (Mackay City, Queensland), John McIntyre (Bears Lagoon Serpentine), Justin Mitrevski (Clayton), Nathan Flint (Rosedale), Jarrod Freeman, Thomas Freeman (Foster), Isaac Love (Woodside); out: Mackenzie Bristow (Caroline Springs), Josh Dunkley (Western Bulldogs), Tom Hams (Bairnsdale), Nash Holmes (Essendon VFL), Justin McLay, Tye Morrison, Barry Parsons, Bohdi Walker (Sale City), Jake Thomas (North Shore, Geelong), Adam Helmke (Boisdale-Briagolong)

THE signs are promising for a good season at Sale.

Shane Fyfe, who is due to play his 200th game for the club in round two, takes over as coach, replacing Travis Ronaldson, who has joined the Gold Coast Suns. Fyfe will be assisted by former AFL player Dylan McLaren.

The Magpies were just three points off a win in the first week of the finals.

Last season was a mixed one for Sale, with victories over Leongatha and Wonthaggi, but a defeat to ninth-placed Moe. There is certainly room for improvement for the Magpies, who had the worst percentage of the top five teams last year.

While it has lost quality players such as Tom Hams and Justin McLay, some good players have returned to Sale Oval, such as Michael Todd, Justin Mitrevski and Jason Garrett. Sale City recruit Tim Dimarco bolsters the Magpies’ defence.

The Magpies will have a tough beginning to the season, meeting the other four of last year’s finalists in the first five rounds.

Coach: Stuart Anderson

2015: four wins, 14 losses (eighth)

In: Tom Hams (Sale), Alex Kater (North Footscray), Darren Allen (Lindenow), Will Hamilton (Wy Yung), Tom Brennan (Gormandale), Jamie Church (Woomelang Lascelles); out: Bayden Ashwood, Luke Dyer (Lindenow), Stephen Henshaw (East Burwood), Tom Smith (Orbost-Snowy Rovers), Nathan Dennison, Brayden McCarrey (Wy Yung), Dale Johnson (Doveton), Brayden Mitchell (Geelong West), Ben Timms (Lakes Entrance), Ben Commins (Swifts Creek), Cameron Streeter (Laharum)

AFL premiership player Stuart Anderson returns to Gippsland football to coach Bairnsdale.

After a finals appearance in 2014, the Redlegs came back to earth last year, winnings just four games to finish eighth.

The Redlegs will be looking to improve under Anderson, and with recruits Tom Hams, Alex Kater, Darren Allen and Will Hamilton.

The Redlegs have lost Bayden Ashwood to Lindenow, where brother Kane is the new coach. Luke Dyer has also joined Lindenow, while Stephen Henshaw and Dale Johnson have also left the club.

Coach: Bob McCallum

2015: seven wins, 11 losses (seventh)

In: Todd Beck (Pakenham), Deen Allen (Thorpdale), Brad Virgona (Buln Buln), Lachlan Bott (Wandella); out: Luke Duffy (Port Melbourne, VFL), Damien Carmody, Cameron Hall (Colbinabbin), Daniel Barrand (Ellinbank)

BOB McCallum is back to build on a promising debut season as coach in 2015.

Following a winless 2014, the Hawks, helped by the return of players from their grand final seasons, finished last year in seventh place with seven victories.

The Hawks pushed the top sides, but found it hard to land the killer blow.

In his first season back at Drouin, ruckman McCallum won the league best-and-fairest and was named in the team of the year alongside fellow Hawks Dan Nicholls and Luke Duffy.

Hopes of continuing that improvement were dealt a blow with the loss of Damien Carmody, Cameron Hall and VFL-bound Duffy.

Aiming to improve its speed across the ground, Drouin has recruited former Gippsland Power player Todd Beck and Buln Buln premiership player Brad Virgona.

Coach: Beau Vernon

2015: 16 wins, five losses (grand finalist)

In: Luke Bowman (Stony Creek), Hayden Browne, Matt Chalmers (Tarwin), Chris Dunne (NT Thunder, NEAFL), Josh Hopkins, Bailey Patterson (Korumburra-Bena), Clinton Johnston (East Malvern), Lochlan Scott (Kilcunda-Bass), Eddie Smith (Foster), Joel Sinclair (Meeniyan-Dumbalk United); out: Jake Best (Vermont), Tas Clingan (Wantirna South), Aaron Heppell (Essendon VFL), Dale Hoghton (Footscray, VFL), Nick Nagel (Power House, VAFA), Jonathan Pitman (The Basin).

AFTER finishing the home-and-away season as minor premier, Leongatha had much of the public behind it, but fell short in the grand final.

With much publicity surrounding him in 2015, Beau Vernon, left a quadriplegic following on-field accident, is back for a second season as coach.

Vernon will be looking to build on the success of last year.

The Parrots had the most potent attack last season, led by Jake Best, who kicked 91 goals, while Cade Maskell and Aaron Hillberg booted 46 and 43 respectively. They were also the only side to concede less than 1000 points during the home-and-away season.

The Parrots will have to make do without Best and Aaron Heppell, who have gone back to the VFL, along with Nick Nagel and Tas Clingan.

Among the recruits is Alberton league team of the year member Josh Hopkins.

Coach: James Blaser

2015: four wins, 14 losses (ninth)

In: Daniel Risol (Woodside), Joel Bragagnolo, Klay Butler (Trafalgar), Colin Sanbrook (Mangoplah CUE, NSW), James Heslop (Paynesville), Richard Horton (Hill End); out: Gavin Low (Knox), Sam Skinner (Brisbane Lions), Lucas Jenkinson (Yallourn-Yallourn North), Mitch Stanlake (North Shore, Geelong)

HAVING been the Lions’ stand-out player in recent seasons, James Blaser takes over from Adrian Burgiel as Moe coach.

In both seasons under Burgiel, the Lions won four matches, but there has been a steady flow of young players coming through the senior ranks. This has been complemented by solid recruiting, among them forward Daniel Risol, who returns to the Lions after a season coaching Woodside.

The Lions will fancy their chances tomorrow of beginning the 2016 season on the right foot, against wooden spooner Warragul.

Coach: Joel Soutar

2015: eight wins, 10 losses (sixth)

In: Tyler Hillier (Yinnar), Josh Piper (Mirboo North), Brad Soutar (Morwell East), Nathan Scurrah (Thorpdale); out: Rob Michaelides (Woodside), Lachlan Little, Mannon Johnston (Northcote Park), Brayden Darby-Lock (Morwell East), Doug Grining (St Albans), Matt Royal (Rosedale)

AFTER taking the job after round two last year, Joel Soutar will have his first full season as Morwell coach.

Off-field issues derailed the Tigers’ bid for a third consecutive premiership. After a poor start, which led to the sacking of their coach, the Tigers only finished two wins however, also a considerable amount of percentage outside the top five.

Tyler Hillier has joined the Tigers after winning a Mid Gippsland premiership with Yinnar, while former Thorpdale coach Nathan Scurrah returns to the club.

Premiership Tigers Mannon Johnston and Lachlan Little are the among players joining former coach Harmit Singh at Northcote Park.

Coach: Mark Collison

2015: 17 wins, four losses (premier)

In: Jason Winderlich (Essendon), Brad Caldwell (Rosedale), Hayden Hector (TTU), Tyler Mustoe (TTU), Bobby Marshall, Dean Pearce (Glengarry), Rick Battista (Cowwarr), Dean Brooks (Morwell East); out: James Appleford (Rye), Hayden Britten (Heidelberg), Christian Buykx-Smith (Williamstown, VFL), Michael Geary, Michael Cooper (retired)

TRARALGON begins the defence of its premiership with a strong line-up under coach Mark Collison.

The Maroons’ major recruit has been the recently retired Essendon AFL player Jason Winderlich, who won’t be available for every match. Hayden Hector and Tyler Mustoe from TTU will add depth.

Entering the finals in third place, Traralgon defeated Leongatha (twice) and Maffra to win the premiership. The Maroons won 11 consecutive matches before lifting the trophy, with a potent midfield a major factor in their success.

Michael Stockdale and Adrian Slottje proved a formidable combination in defence.

Hayden Britten, who kicked four goals in the grand final, has gone to Heidelberg, while captain Michael Geary has retired.

Expect the Maroons, who had all four of its football teams in grand final last year, to again be strong in 2016.

Coach: Steven Kidd

2015: two wins, 16 losses (last)

In: Brayden Fowler (Manly-Warringah, NSW), Nate Paredes (Warragul Industrials), Nathan Kalijouw (Rokewood-Corindhap); out: Harry McKay (Carlton), Ben McKay (North Melbourne), Tom Hobbs (Port Melbourne, VFL), Jarryd Drew (Southport, NEAFL), Mark Johnson (Bunyip)

DESPITE just two wins for the season, there were many positives to come out of season 2015 for Warragul.

The young Gulls gained a lot of experience, which will serve them well this year. This, combined with some good recruiting, gives the club every reason to be hopeful of a better season.

Coach Steven Kidd has the Gulls heading in the right direction.

Brad Scalzo is a vital cog in the Warragul midfield, but will need others to step-up.

The Gulls have a good chance to build up some early season confidence, with matches against Moe, Drouin, Bairnsdale and Morwell, who also finished 2015 outside the finals.

Warragul will field an under 18s team this year after being absent in 2015.

Coach: Stuart Gilmour

2015: 12 wins, eight losses (fourth)

In: Tom Davey, Joe Magro (Dalyston), Jamie Cann (Tarwin), Nick Tucker (Lang Lang), Tim Landells (De La Salle, VAFA); out: Travis Krause (Dalyston), Andrew Murray (Glen Waverley), Chris Wylie (Edithvale-Aspendale), Earl Shaw (St George, Sydney)

STUART Gilmour returns to Wonthaggi as senior coach, taking over from Rob Railton.

Gilmour inherits a side which has played in the past three finals series, but the premiership has eluded it.

Wins last year over grand finalists Traralgon and Leongatha highlight how good the Power is. It will need to be more consistent against those top teams if it’s to push for the main prize.

Shannon Bray a key player for the Power in defence, as is half-forward Aiden Lindsay.

The biggest loss is ruckman Earl Shaw.

The return of Joel Little and Eli Richards from long-term injury will make a difference in the middle of the park.