COACH: Derrick Filo (new)
LAST YEAR: Seventh
Joel Smith (from Harcourt), Joel Smith (from Newstead), Wayne Schultz, Simon Seddon, Joel Osbrough, Darby Semmens, Luke Walters.
Justin Dorward, Rhys Ford, Thomas Godsell, Tommy Horne, Brian Mustafa, Tallan Wright, Jay Milward, Alex Farrow.
Sportsbet flag odds: $17
Player points: 45
R1: v Maryborough (h)
R2: v Sandhurst (a)
R3: v Kyneton (a)
R4: v South Bendigo (h)
LAST FIVE YEARS
2016: Seventh (7-11)
2015: Seventh (6-12)
2014: Ninth (3-15)
2013: Seventh (3-13)
THE trajectory is on the right path for Castlemaine as it enters 2017 under new coach Derrick Filo.
Over the previous three seasons under former coach Shane Robertson the Magpies have built from three wins in 2014, to six in 2015 and seven last year – their most since 2007.
The challenge now for Filo and the Magpies is to continue that trend in pursuit of the club’s first senior finals appearance since 2005.
The Magpies have added some top-end talent to their list in the return of pacy midfielder Wayne Schultz, who won the Michelsen Medal in a Castlemaine side that won just two games in 2011.
The classy Simon Seddon – who famously kicked 10 goals in the second half of Labrador’s QAFL grand final loss to Morningside in 2014 – is also a key addition to the Magpies’ midfield brigade, who will also be dangerous inside forward 50.
As well as Schultz, another former Magpie in forward Joel Smith is back and will be required to help fill the void of the loss of last year’s leading goalkicker Rhys Ford to North Bendigo.
Veteran Luke Walters is back at the club and Joel Osbrough will give the Magpies some versatility, including playing in the ruck.
Q & A with Derrick Filo
Q: Castlemaine hasn't played finals since 2005. Why can this be the year the Magpies end their drought?
There's two things we need to do that are both as important as each other.
We need to improve the win-loss record and challenge for finals, but we've got to start getting game time into young players who can take you to the next level.
We don't want to be a club that's middle of the road just relying on recruits year in, year out.
I think of the teams outside the five last year, most of them are going to improve; how much is going to be the interesting thing.
I'm quietly confident we've got the talent level there that if the attitude is right we can play finals.
COACH: Debbie Symes (new)
LAST YEAR: Tenth
Justine Fitzgibbon, Lani Jo Lindrea, Kylie Wilson, Chloe Culpitt, Georgia Creighton, Shahni Bassett, Georgia Pike, Talisa Turner, Lisa Ansaldi, Tess Kelly, Chloe Dynon, Ali Webb, Keely Letson, Sophie Greig, Megan Ireland, Jess Humphrey, Sam O’Brien, Alannah Rowland, Liz Woodward, Nikkea Hogan, Hannah Donnelly, Shanae McIntyre, Tayla Boyd, Alex MacDonald, Bek Orro, Lilly Godfrey.
A-reserve: Debbie Symes
B-grade and B-reserve: Genine McHugh and Liz Woodward
17-and-under and development squad: Sharyn Dredge and Genine McHugh
LAST THREE YEARS
AFTER a tough off-season, Castlemaine has already scored a significant win by just being able to field four senior teams in 2017.
The Magpies will have 26 new, mainly Bendigo-based players through its senior grades.
Only Hayley Kinross, Taylah Sartori, Thouraya Mustafa, Genine McHugh, Sharyn Dredge, Rebecca Slater and Sherrin Wright remain from last season's senior list.
The long-list of new arrivals stretches to 17-and-under squad, with 10 new faces joining a pair of last year's players Maddy Blake and Brianna Pedretti.
Perhaps the Magpies biggest inclusion is new coach Debbie Symes, who brings with her 25-years of coaching and playing experience from stints at rival BFNL clubs Eaglehawk, South Bendigo and Golden Square.
Club secretary Lorelle Huntly said players had responded positively to the new coach, in particular her training methods.
It is hoped some success will flow.
"For the first time in a long time it's looking really good. Just getting the teams up has been a win for us," she said.
With the bulk of their senior list travelling from Bendigo, the Magpies will train in Bendigo each second week.
Q & A with club secretary Lorelle Huntly
Q: What impact has Debbie Symes had at Castlemaine in her first few months?
She's been really good, she's brought a real sense of professionalism into the club. The girls really love the way she conducts her training sessions. Deb is really about promoting our younger talents, she likes working with the younger players.
Q: There's a lot of new faces at the club. How did you go about filling four senior teams?
"We had six tryouts in the end and got a good response. We picked up a few through La Trobe uni which was great for us. There's a lot from Bendigo. Our 17-and-under and development squads are all Castlemaine girls, and we hope that flows from here on in.