HEATHCOTE coach Luke Bell expects the Saints’ ruck department to be one of his team’s strengths next year following the return of Daniel Russell and Damien King.
Russell re-joins the Saints in the Heathcote District league after spending the past two years playing for the Northern Territory Thunder.
King – a member of the Saints’ 2009 premiership team – spent this year playing with Wallan.
“Daniel has obviously come on in leaps and bounds having spent the past couple of years with the NT Thunder,” Bell said on Wednesday.
“We’re looking forward to both Daniel and Kingy working together in tandem in the ruck.
“Carl Obst did a good job for us in the ruck this year, but now we’ll have two really proven, athletic ruckmen, so we can see that as being a real strength for us.”
As well as King, the Saints also have a fellow 2009 premiership player in Daniel Anderson back at the club.
Midfielder Anderson was sidelined for all of this year after suffering a knee injury in Rochester’s 2016 grand final loss to Kyabram.
“He’s coming off a knee reconstruction, but he’s up north working and has already played a couple of games, so we expect he’ll come back in really good nick for us,” Bell said.
“The boys we had did a good job this year, but we were probably a bit light-on through the midfield.
“But adding Daniel into there… he’s an A-grader and the opposition is going to have to put a bit of time into him, which will free up guys like Jake Condon to hopefully, spend more time up forward.”
Blake Coyle, who is also coming off a knee injury suffered early this year playing for Golden Square, is another former Saint returning to Barrack Reserve.
Coyle is a former Rising Star winner in the Goulburn Valley league in 2010 and was one of the stars for the Saints in 2013 – the year Heathcote last played finals.
“Blake is another quality player who will give us some outside pace, skill and can hit the scoreboard, so we’re really pleased to have him back,” Bell said.
Angelo Romagnano from Sandhurst and James Baker, a former Heathcote junior, have also signed on for 2018.
“We expect we’ll have a lot more depth in our squad, which is one of the areas we were lacking in this year,” Bell said.
The Saints – who kick off their pre-season training on Wednesday night – have also landed an off-field coup with Mick McGuane to assist the club as a coaching consultant.
“Mick spent four to five hours with us last Sunday and it was fantastic to hear the way he speaks about football,” Bell said.
As well as Bell, who is in charge for a second year, the Saints’ football coaching panel for 2018 includes Mick Ayres and Carl Obst (reserves co-coaches) and Bob Beare (under-17s), while John McCarthy is chairman of selectors.
Meanwhile, the Saints have appointed Lorrae Closter as their new A grade netball coach.
Closter is a best and fairest player with South Bendigo, and has also played at Bacchus Marsh and Beaufort, where she has A grade coaching experience.
The Saints will hold a netball meet the coaches day this Sunday at the Bridge Hotel from 2pm to 5pm.
Pre-season training will begin on Tuesday, February 6.
The Saints’ 2018 committee includes Jack Paisley (football president), Bec Dickinson (netball president), John McCarthy (vice-president), Heidi Pianta-Cook (secretary) and Sharon Bibby (treasurer).