MARYBOROUGH has lured a pair of former club best and fairest winners back to Princes Park.
The Magpies have welcomed back 2013 best and fairest and former captain Luke Bucknell and regained young gun Coby Perry on a full-time basis following the demise of VFL club North Ballarat Roosters.
Bucknell and Perry are the two of the first three major signings for the Magpies, under new coach Ben Lavars, who has joined the club from Bellarine league club Geelong Amateurs.
The Magpies have added a third club best and fairest winner in Jacob Long, a former club captain at Natte Bealiba in the Maryborough Castlemaine league.
Lavars said the trio added a combination of much-needed leadership and talent to a young Magpies list.
“From all reports, Luke is a fantastic player and he’s another older guy that will really help with the younger players and leadership around the club,” he said.
“Meeting him and talking to him, he will be a really great acquisition. Not just from a player standpoint, but his experience.
“It’s something we will need. It’s fantastic the club has so many young kids and a lot of junior players coming through, but you really need a good core group of your 28 (years) and above, who can lead the young kids and show them how to train and give them someone to look up to.
“There were some games last year when we had 16 kids 21 years or under, which is fantastic from a future standpoint, but really tough when things get hard on field.”
Bucknell was a joint best and fairest in his first season with Lake Wendouree in 2015 and played three seasons with the Ballarat league club.
Perry, who won the Magpies’ best and fairest in 2015, debuted for the Roosters in 2016 and spent the bulk of last season with the VFL side.
Lavars, who will move to Maryborough from Geelong with his family next week, was hopeful of adding a few more signings in the next few weeks.
It’s fantastic the club has so many young kids and a lot of junior players coming through, but you really need a good core group of your 28 (years) and above, who can lead the young kids and show them how to train and give them someone to look up to.Ben Lavars
“It’s been a struggle to get people to commit so far – it might be just the time of year,” he said.
“There are a few guys waiting on work and university placements and to see what happens there.
“Now that has sort of died down, we are hoping we can get onto some blokes quickly and get a few more signatures.”
One of the Geelong region’s most decorated players of the last decade, Lavars joins Maryborough with four premierships as a player under his belt, including three with Geelong Amateurs and another with Geelong league powerhouse St Mary’s in 2008.
The inter-league regular said the club had been nothing but professional and welcoming in his early months at the helm.
Lavars said his settling in period had been made easier by securing work at Maryborough Education Centre, where he will teach the grades five and six.
“That’s a load off the shoulders … obviously I would have found work somewhere, but it was nice to lock away a teaching job and have that done,” he said.
“There are a few things that are falling into place quite nicely, that’s made it easier to focus on footy rather than everything else.”
The Lavars have wasted no time in immersing themselves in the club, with wife Taylar taking up a netball coaching role with the Magpies under A-grade leader Deb Symes.
Pre-season training for the Magpies footballers will resume on January 20.