A FORMER member of the AIS-AFL Academy is among the first two of what Castlemaine coach Derrick Filo expects to be up to nine recruits at Camp Reserve this year.
Dylan Atkins was a member of the AIS-AFL Academy and Vic Metro squad for the Under-18 National Championships in 2015 and will provide the Magpies with some key position height in 2018.
“We’re very happy to get Dylan on board. He will give us that bit of height, which is a big positive because you’re always a bit nervous about the amount of height you have in your team,” Filo said.
“He can play key defence or in the ruck, so he will give us a third option in the ruck along with Braidon (Blake) and Alexander Banko, who showed some really good signs last year and looks ready to take the next step.”
As well as Atkins, the Magpies have also added goalkicking onballer Fabian Brancatisano to their list.
Brancatisano has previously been on Port Melbourne’s list and was a contestant on reality TV show The Recruit in 2016, while he has also played with West Coburg in the Essendon District league and spent 2015 at Pyramid Hill, kicking a team-high 45 goals.
“He’s a midfielder who can kick a goal and will add a bit of polish to the side, which is something we need more of,” said Filo, who is preparing for his second season at the Magpies’ helm.
“We won plenty of the ball last year, but we just butchered it and gave it back to the opposition too often.
“When you give it back to sides like Eaglehawk and Strathfieldsaye, it goes down the other end with interest, so we’ll look to add in some more players with really good foot skills.
“Ideally we would liked to have had our recruiting wrapped up by Christmas, but the reality is that when you finish second-last on the ladder, it can take you into February to get where you want to.”
The Magpies are coming off an ordinary 2017 season in which they won just two games and copped nine defeats by more than 100 points.
“With the points it can be a bit tricky to bring in as many as you want, and there’s obviously the salary cap as well, but we want to make sure we get the balance right between improving on-field results while not comprising young talent,” Filo said.
“We think between the age of 17 and 21 we’ve got a good core of players, so we want to make sure we’re looking after them as well.”
One of those young players in that age bracket has been reigning best and fairest Kalan Huntly, who is training with Essendon’s VFL team.
Castlemaine opens its 2018 season at Princes Park against Maryborough.