HDFNL season preview: White Hills

STAR QUALITY: The bullocking Hayden Wright will be one of the players to watch for White Hills this season.
STAR QUALITY: The bullocking Hayden Wright will be one of the players to watch for White Hills this season.

WHITE HILLS FOOTBALL

COACH: Brent Millar (new)

LAST YEAR: Seventh

ARRIVALS

Lachlan Sidebottom, Sean Christopher, Kris Bedford, Ryley Dickens, Levi Middleton, Ben Johnston, Peter McKay, Jake Allport, Steve O’Keefe, Josh Hopkins.

DEPARTURES

Tom Brereton, Mitchell Gardner, Jack Daley, Aaron Downie, Sam Frawley, Caillum Brady, Jeremy Molloy.

THE BASICS

Sportsbet flag odds: $14

Player points: 44

FIRST MONTH

R1: v Elmore (a)

R2: v Heathcote (h)

R3: v Huntly (a)

R4: v North Bendigo (h)

LAST FIVE YEARS

2016: Seventh (5-11)

2015: Fourth (10-8)

2014: Fifth (8-9)

2013: Seventh (5-11)

2012: Eighth (5-11)

WHITE Hills will unveil a team with plenty of new faces in it as it aims to bounce back from a disappointing 2016.

A new coach is at the helm in Brent Millar, who has previously led Colbinabbin to a premiership, as well as a host of new recruits that should ensure the Demons are much more competitive than the team that won five games last year, but lost seven by at least 80 points.

Among the Demons’ recruits are Lachlan Sidebottom, a mobile ruckman who can also play key forward or back.

Sean Christopher is another tall from Glenelg, who gives the Demons flexibility.

Kris Bedford up forward, solidly-built midfielder Levi Middleton, a former TAC Cup player with the Murray Bushrangers, and pacy winger Peter McKay, who has previously pursed a professional golfing career, are also among the new faces at White Hills.

Dual Heathcote District Cheatley medallist Ben Johnston, who won in 2008 and 2009 with Colbinabbin, makes his return to the league with White Hills, as does former Huntly half-back Ryley Dickens.

The return of ruckman Matt Lehane from a knee injury will also give the Demons a boost.

Q & A with Brent Millar

Q: The off-season recruiting certainly looks like it has been very productive with a host of new players at the club, as well as yourself as a new coach.

It's very much a new-look team with 10 new players coming into our 22, and probably eight of them will be in our starting 18.

Q: There will obviously be some time needed early in the year in getting the team to gel.

Absolutely. We've spent a lot of time during the pre-season working on our fitness base and also working on our team defence.

But we can't forget the existing playing group either. It was only two years ago that group played finals and they are all very enthusiastic to have a red-hot crack. 

SWITCH: Sarah Nash has made the move across from the BFNL to White Hills.

SWITCH: Sarah Nash has made the move across from the BFNL to White Hills.

WHITE HILLS NETBALL

ARRIVALS

Sarah Nash (South Bendigo); Anna-Grace Close (Harrow-Balmoral); Rosie Close (Melbourne); Bronte Deary (Kangaroo Flat); Yasmin Colley (Returning); Rhian Moresi (Skipton); Alyssa Cole (Romsey).

DEPARTURES

Michelle Atherton (retired); Brooke Lawrey; Kirsty Harvey; Chloe Gloury.

COACHING PANEL

A-reserve: Mandy McIntosh

B-grade: Cherie Walker

B-reserve: Nadine Anderson and Janene Cass

Head junior coach: Lucy Hughes

17-and-under: Laurinda Sawyer

15-and-under: Lucy Hughes

Primary: Chloe Bowles

LAST THREE YEARS

2016: Second

2015: Third

2014: Third

NO side appears to have recruited as well in numbers and quality as White Hills, which is an outstanding result for a team which finished last season as runners-up.

The Demons have lost some talent from last year's squad, including Brooke Lawrey and Kirstie Harvey, but have recruited strong replacements.

The list of arrivals is headed by former South Bendigo captain Sarah Nash and goal attack Anna-Grace Close, who was a premiership player with Harrow-Balmoral in the Horsham District league in 2016.

Coach Nadine Anderson will face some hard calls with the gap between her A-grade and A-reserve sides reportedly narrow.

But that's a good dilemma to have, indicating plenty of depth in the playing ranks.

"All our (senior) teams were in grand finals last year (for two premierships), so as a club we want to go two better," Anderson said.

"We've also picked up some girls in our B and B-reserve teams, so as a whole club I think we are stronger than last year."

With gun midcourter Lauren Bowles due back early in the season, a top-two finish is on the cards.

Q&A with Nadine Anderson

Q: It appears you have you been very active on the recruiting front?

We have. We are probably closer in ability between the A-grade and A-reserve groups. It's been harder to pick an A-grade side.

Q: Tell us a bit about your preparation?

We have done a 10-week session with The Human Mechanics and had two practice matches so far, one against Wycheproof and the other against Strathfieldsaye. (Last night) we had one against Sandhurst and we've got one coming up against Eaglehawk. It will be a good lead-up.