Coach: Damien Lock (2nd year)
Last year: Fifth.
Last flag: 1989.
Corey Barrington, Aaron Bateson, Ricky Dudley, Jarrod Fitzpatrick, Ryan McGhie, Brett Quin, Cameron Ross.
Corey Gregg, Ben Gregg, Richard Tibbett, Kyle Manley
Sportsbet flag odds: $26.
Player points: 46
R1 v bye
R2 v BL-Serpentine (a)
R3 v Pyramid Hill (h)
R4 v Mitiamo (a)
Marong is looking to shake its Jekyll and Hyde tag in 2017.
Last year the Panthers defeated Mitiamo and were competitive against Calivil United, but suffered a shock defeat to Inglewood and were blown away by Pyramid Hill in the elimination final.
“Consistency is something we need to address,’’ coach Damien Lock said.
“We have to work harder to make sure we bring our best effort every week and that will help us close the gap between our best and worst.”
Lock is keen to put 2016 behind the Panthers, particularly after the departure of key quartet Corey Gregg, Ben Gregg, Richard Tibbett and Kyle Manley.
Lock has strengthened the Panthers’ big man department through the signings of former Strathfieldsaye and Leitchville-Gunbower ruckman Cam Ross and key defensive duo Ryan McGhie and Brett Quin.
Ross “hasn’t missed a beat at training” and Lock expects the big man to form a dynamic ruck/forward combination with Justin Hynes.
“Hynesy was probably our best player last year,’’ Lock said.
“They’ll cause a few headaches this year.”
Q & A with Damien Lock
Q: How are you feeling about the Panthers’ chances leading into round one?
We were disappointed to lose the senior players that we did, but it probably gives us a chance to have a fresh start.
We’ve got a new-look group and we’re excited to see how far we can go.
Q: Are you happy with your recruiting strategy after the loss of several senior players?
Having lost the guys that we did, we had to bolster our midfield group and we’ve tried to do that.
I think we’ve done a good job of bolstering our backline as well.
Coach: Robyn Cunnington (new)
Last year: Seventh
Rylee Elliot, Lauren Jenkin, Tameeka Lowry, Kim Adams, Shareece County, Michaela Pilling, Lauren Toulson, Nikita Ede, Bridget Mudie, Xiena Gorrie, Celeste Delikatzis, Tiana Desmond, Jenna Bray, Steph Fieldew, Shannon Hansford, Steph Daly, Kayla Jay.
Megan Bagnall (Eaglehawk); Narelle Brown (retired); Caitlyn O'Hara (Boort); Amy Trist (Boort); Farin Lawrence (Boort), Brianna Frankel (Boort), Kate Healy, Courtney Boyd (work commitments), Ally Charles (injured); Maddy Scoble (Inglewood).
IT'S long odds any LVFNL team has undergone a makeover as substantial as Marong.
The Panthers, under new coach Robyn Cunnington, have brought in 19 new players across all grades, and have another 10 who are returning to the club after a season away for varying reasons.
That leaves 13 who suited up for the Panthers in 2016, a year in which the club made great strides at A-grade level, winning four games and being competitive in many others following a winless 2015.
The outs are headed by former coach Megan Bagnell, who has crossed to Eaglehawk, and a quartet of players bound for Boort in Farin Lawrence, Brianna Frankel, Amy Trist and Caitlyn O'Hara.
Despite the turnover, Cunnington, who was initially appointed to coach the Panthers' C-grade team before taking on the A and B-grade roles, said there was a positive vibe and energy around the entire senior squad.
A league A-grade best and fairest winner as a player in 2004, Cunnington is in her fourth stint as Marong coach.
With the club in rebuild mode, she is positive the decision to return is one of the best she’s made.
Q & A with Robyn Cunnington
Q: There has been a big change in playing personnel across the grades. How is your squad shaping up?
Last year the average age of our A Grade team was around 27 but this year the average age will be closer to 21. Our pre season has been great with attendance high. With a squad of 42 competition for selection each week will be very keen. Our focus has been rebuilding, gelling and bonding. The whole squad is fresh with enthusiasm for the coming season.
There is no focus on past years only focus on this year and the future. Improvements each week in fitness and skills has been reassuring. The squad have already achieved some group goals and challenges. They throw themselves wholeheartedly into trainings and sessions.