A TRIO with 11 Lockington-Bamawm United premierships between them are among the former players new coach Kahl Oliver has attracted back to the Cats.
Oliver, himself making a return to the Cats as coach, has tapped back into the club’s reign of domination that he was a major part of with his 2018 recruiting.
Nathan O’Brien and Lachlan Collins played in all four of the Cats’ flags in a row between 2011 and 2014, while Jarod Bacon played in three, with the trio all returning to the club for the 2018 Heathcote District league season.
O’Brien, who hasn’t played for the past two seasons, captained three of the Cats’ premierships and is set to step back into his creative role off half-back.
Forward Collins, a previous HDFL inter-league representative, kicked 33, 29, 54 and 36 goals in the Cats’ four premiership seasons.
Collins has spent the past two seasons playing with Moama in the Murray league, kicking 38 goals this year and 52 in 2016.
Bacon has kicked 45 goals in 36 games for Rochester the past two years, and was one of the Tigers’ best players in their 2016 losing Goulburn Valley league grand final to powerhouse Kyabram.
Jeremy Mundie, who played four senior games for Rochester this year, is also returning to the Cats, with he, O’Brien, Collins and Bacon all one-point players.
“My starting point for the recruiting was to try to get some of our local players back at the club and we’ve been able to do that,” said Oliver, who coached the Cats’ 2011, 2012 and 2013 flags and also played in the 2014 grand final triumph.
“Things are really positive with the football club.”
The Cats have also added two new players with senior Goulburn Valley league experience with Echuca in brothers Bart and Tyler Phillips.
“Bart has come on as an assistant coach. He’s a half-back who can play a bit through the midfield and Tyler is a key position player who can play either centre half-forward or centre half-back. We’re rapt to have both of them,” Oliver said.
Oliver, a key forward during the Cats’ premiership years, is also contemplating a return to the field in 2018.
Since winning the last of their flags in 2014 the Cats have been in rebuilding mode the past three years, firstly under coach John Halloran and then Peter Gibbs for the past two seasons.
The Cats this year finished sixth with four wins, while there were four other games where they were either in front or within a kick at three quarter-time.