COACH: Nick Knight (2nd year)
LAST YEAR: Fourth
Damian O’Brien, Liam Ryan, Jordan Wilson, Seb Nixon, Mitch Booth
Grant Weeks, Linton Jacobs, Stephen Madden, Russ Douglas
Sportsbet flag odds: $12
Player points: 42
R1: v Leitchville-Gunbower (a)
R2: v Mt Pleasant (h)
R3: v Elmore (a)
R4: v Heathcote (h)
PAST FIVE YEARS
Colbinabbin will focus on the future rather than pondering what might have been had star forward Grant Weeks not been forced to retire because of injury.
While Weeks’ absence will be telling, Colbinabbin coach Nick Knight is hoping an injection of youth and fresh faces will keep the Grasshoppers in the top five in 2017.
Strathfieldsaye premiership player Jordan Wilson will play midfield and forward and according to Knight “hasn’t missed a beat in the pre-season”.
“Jordy is the type of player we probably lacked last year,’’ Knight said.
“He’ll give us some extra hardness around the footy.”
Former Wangaratta midfielder Mitch Booth adds class to the midfield group, Damian O’Brien, originally from Benalla, is a running defender, Liam Ryan adds depth and flexibility to the Grasshoppers, while former Barooga wingman Seb Nixon has impressed in the pre-season.
Weeks, Linton Jacobs and Russ Douglas headline the departures.
“The three outs are big for us, but the way the boys have responded over pre-season holds us in good shape for the 2017 season,’’ Knight said.
Q & A with Nick Knight
Q: How do you go about replacing a champion of country footy in Grant Weeks?
Our aim has been to increase our depth and invest some time in our younger players.
By getting a few midfielders/forwards into the club it’s a way of trying to manufacture more goals because we haven’t got Weeksy up forward.
We’ll try to be unpredictable up forward to create scoreboard opportunities.”
Q: Are you confident this group can take the club an extra step this year?
I have full confidence and belief in the group. The closer we get to the season I feel as though we have more buy-in than we did at this time last year. That’s a real positive going into the season.
COACH: Liz Cobbledick (second year)
LAST YEAR: Premiers
Holly Guerra (Golden Square); Sophie Robertson (returning to netball).
Carly Geary (pregnant); Bridie Crowe (study); Felicity Ryan.
A-reserve: Lou Dupuy
B-grade - Trish Wilkinson
B-reserve - Hannah Fuller
17-and-under: Alex Ward
LAST THREE YEARS
OMINOUSLY for rivals, Colbinabbin is looking as strong as ever ahead of its HDFNL A-grade netball defence.
The Grasshoppers are well-armed for their premiership defence, enticing 2015 premiership defender Holly Guerra back from BFNL club Golden Square, and former North Albury goal shooter Sophie Robertson back into netball.
If that were not enough to send shivers down the spines of opposing teams, Colbinabbin also welcomes back 2015 premiership star Kate Chirnside, who missed all but two games last season with an Achilles injury.
Returning coach Liz Cobbledick, who won the league best-and-fairest in her first season with the Grasshoppers, said Chirnside would be eased back into the line-up.
She said last season's premiership hero Louise Dupuy would miss at least the season opener against Leitchville-Gunbower with an injury.
Cobbledick plans on giving some of last year's 17-and-under premiership team, including Kristen Maroney, a crack at A-grade.
And do not be surprised to see Cobbledick's sister Annie, who is playing VNL this season with Melbourne Uni, line up for the odd game for the Grasshoppers.
Q&A with Liz Cobbledick
Q. How has your preparation been this time around?
We played in the Rochester Invitational Tournament which was quite good. I was really impressed with the way the girls played. We had quite a lot of different combinations. It was a lot of netball in 34 degree heat, but I was impressed with the girls' effort.
Kate Chirnside played a couple of quarters that day - that was her first run of match-play netball since her Achilles injury 12 months ago. She's been going really well in rehab and looks very fit.
We will take it easy with her the first few weeks, but she won't be far off full fitness. We're really looking forward to having her back in that goal keeper spot.