SOUTH Bendigo coach Rick Coburn hopes the signing of midfielder Justin Wilson will help to offset the loss of reigning dual best and fairest Daniel Anderson.
Coburn confirmed yesterday the Bloods had signed Wilson, who was a member of Kerang’s Central Murray Football League premiership team this year, and has also coached Nyah Nyah West United.
Wilson, originally from Queensland, has also spent time on the Brisbane Lions’ list, but didn’t play any AFL games.
He is currently playing for St Mary’s in the Northern Territory Football League.
“He’s a tough little inside midfielder,” Coburn said.
“He’s around the age of 29, so a player with that sort of experience is going to be very handy for us because we’re going to have a very young list next year.
“The average age of the list is going to be 21, so it’s a very young list to work with.”
With Wilson joining the Bloods, it will go so some way to helping cover the loss of Anderson, who has joined Goulburn Valley Football League club Rochester.
“Ando won our past two best and fairests and was a very good player, so players like that aren’t easy to replace,” Coburn said.
“Hopefully, Justin can come in and give our midfield a bit of bite.”
The Bloods are well under way in their pre-season training after being one of the first clubs to hit the track in preparation for 2013.
“The boys have been training well and the fitness levels are already a bit better than they were at this time last year,” Coburn said.
“Probably last pre-season for a number of reasons, we didn’t get as much work into a few blokes as we would have liked, so we’ve tried to rectify that this year.
“We started training earlier than usual, so we’re really getting the work into the boys.”
MEANWHILE, next year’s North Central Football League season will open with a grand final rematch.
The 2013 NCFL season begins on April 13, with the round one matches to include the grand final rematch between Wedderburn and St Arnaud.
The Redbacks defeated the Saints by one point in the grand final this year to win their second flag in a row.
Other games in round one will be Wycheproof-Narraport v Birchip-Watchem and Donald v Charlton. Boort has the bye.
The NCFL will play an inter-league game against the Geelong District Football League in Geelong on May 25, while the grand final will be played on September 21.
● NCFL coaches for 2013:
Birchip-Watchem: Lachie Foott (new).
Boort: Ricky Easton (new).
Charlton: Reece Collins (new).
Donald: Brendan Jennings and Thomas Bell (new).
St Arnaud: James McNamee.
Wedderburn: Daniel Gash.
Wycheproof-Narraport: James Coatsworth.