Kyneton signs Jack and Jayden Exell and Jake Ward

Kyneton coach Luke Beattie
Kyneton coach Luke Beattie

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KYNETON has strengthened its playing stocks as the club looks to build on a trio of consecutive fifth place BFNL finishes.

The Tigers have welcomed brothers Jack and Jayden Exell and former Sandhurst and White Hills key position player Jake Ward.

Their signing comes just days after the shock announcement classy forward/midfielder Ben Weightman had joined Heathcote District club Mount Pleasant.

Kyneton coach Luke Beattie said it was hoped the trio gave the Tigers the necessary injection of talent to force their way up the ladder.

The Exell brothers, who are the sons of former Geelong star forward Gavin Exell, join the Tigers from Kyabram District league club Stanhope.

The pair are versatile players, with Jack – a former Bendigo Pioneer - an exciting goal kicker who can also play in defence.

Jayden plays mainly in defence and was the Lions’ captain in 2017.

While Jack Exell, who has played a handful of games for Geelong’s VFL side, and Ward in particular figure to increase the Tigers goal scoring potential, Beattie said their addition was not about simply filling the void left by Weightman and fellow departing  forward Mitch Scholard, who is returning to Queensland.

“It’s really the ability to get more mobile to ensure our defensive pressure, particularly from our forward line, is a lot more effective,” he said.

“A lot of teams rebounded too easily from that space, which really put the pressure on our back six.

“It’s a bit of an across the ground improvement strategy that we are looking at, not just about specifically replacing Ben and Mitch in their goal kicking capacity.

“At the end of the day, with that structure we’ve only managed to finish fifth the last three years, so we reasonably need to change our approach in some ways.”

Ward captained White Hills during 2017.

Beattie said this year’s off-season shaped as vastly different to the past two, when the Tigers were forced to deal with high numbers of departures.

It was hoped the losses of Weightman and Scholard, who combined for 151 goals last season, would be the only ones of significance at Kyneton.

“In the last two seasons we have lost eight and nine players respectively and that causes a whole range of challenges to the list,” he said.

“In the way that you structure, in the way the group come together and the consistency.

“At the moment, looking at only two players turning over, that’s a real significant development for this football club and shows a real belief what the players and club can achieve moving forward.”