It’s been seven long seasons since the Bendigo Bank Braves won the SEABL championship.
For captain Chris Hogan and vice-captain Kevin Probert it’s time to climb back to the summit.
Hogan is taking on the captaincy role for the first time in 2013 after sharing the duty with his close friend and retired guard Warren Randall last season.
The 272-game veteran forms part of the heart-and-soul of the club, and he’s desperate to claim the national title.
“Each year I play for the Braves, the more the club means to me,” Hogan, 28, said.
“This year I am extremely proud to have the privilege of captaining the 2013 Braves team with the assistance of our ‘veteran’ vice-captain Kevin Probert.
“To make it more exciting our group is very strong…we have the team to bring an SEABL title to Bendigo.”
The Braves made no secret of their championship ambitions last year, only for the attitudes of imports Daniel Horton and Deilvez Yearby to derail the team.
But with Ivan McFarlin back, Jazz Ferguson lured from Albury-Wodonga and MVP Tom Garlepp returning, the Braves’ starting five is as good as any in the league.
“Last year there was a few things that had to go our way still because we had two imports we’d never played with before and Tom who we’d never had before,” Probert, 24, said.
“Whereas this year we know what we’re going to get from Jazz. We obviously know about Ivan and Tom’s coming back.
“We’ve again set our goal on the national championships and really, pending injuries, we should get there, I believe.”
Hogan and Probert have led the club through pre-season, which has been the toughest for several years.
Braves coach Ben Harvey will look to his leaders to keep their team-mates focused this season.
“Chris and Kevin thoroughly deserve their appointments,” Harvey said.
“They have shown so far during the pre-season that they are capable leaders and during the season we will rely on them heavily to ensure our team is constantly heading in the right direction.”
With the start of the season just two weeks away, the Braves will ramp up preparations in their final home practice match on Sunday against Sandringham from 1pm at Bendigo Stadium.
A free clinic will be held before the match from 11am to noon.
stadium.com.au for any details.
The Braves’ first match of the season is at Bendigo Stadium against Knox on March 15 from 8pm, following the Lady Braves game which tips off at 6pm.