Coach: Danny Teskera (1st year)
Last year: Premiers - 17-2
Arrivals: Darcy Bibby, Tyler Jones.
Departures: Mitch Bruns, Daniel Couwenberg, Jack Gleeson, Tim Lincoln, Matt Perri, Shaun Turvey, Bart Walsh.
Player points: 40
Last flag: 2018
R1: v Mount Pleasant (h)
R2: v North Bendigo (h)
R3: v Elmore (a)
R4: v LBU (h)
Past five years:
2018: 1st - 17-2
2017: 1st - 18-1
2016: 2nd - 15-3
2015: 2nd - 16-2
2014: 3rd - 11-8
Last season’s MVP top 5:
Jack Gleeson - 51
Daniel Coates - 47
Matt Ladson - 42
Tim Lincoln - 36
Brady Hore - 25
Last season’s top 5 goalkickers:
Matt Perri - 78
Jake Vandongen - 58
Daniel Coates - 48
Tim Lincoln - 28
Jack Gleeson - 20
Q and A with coach Danny Teskera
There are some big names that have left the club after last season's second flag in a row. Do you still consider the side a genuine premiership threat this year?
"Most definitely. Like any team, we'll need a few things to go our way, but we've had some real class players at our football club in recent years who have set high standards.
"We're really mindful this year of growing our local boys and the good thing with that is locals can all get on the training track together, which is something we've missed over the past few years.
"There will be some days where things don't go our way, but there will be others when we have some really good results.
"We have a saying at the club that we never lose… we win or we learn and that's our mindset."
Star forward Matt Perri is obviously a huge loss, which makes the return of Tyler Jones to the club very timely.
"It's great to have Tyler back, but they are two completely different players. We've also got Jack Dye coming back after a year off with a shoulder and he's a real up-and-coming player who has a great set of hands.
"But with other guys like Daniel Coates and Jake Vandongen, we've got some really strong key forwards and should be a bit more unpredictable without Perri down there this year.
"I'd hate to be an opposition coach trying to find a match-up for Coates."
Leitchville-Gunbower has been renowned over the years for its exciting crop of junior talent. Who of the youngsters do you have earmarked as players to watch this season?
"We've got the likes of Jacob Gordon, Blake Gelletly, Josh Hawken and Luke Pollock from the under-17 premiership team last year who all bring something different.
"They are all smart footballers who know the game and we think will help to give us a real balanced side."
The Bombers enter the season as the two-time defending premiers and once again carrying the tag as the hunted.
Along with fellow power North Bendigo, the Bombers have been at a level well above any of their rivals over the past four years, but can they maintain their lofty standards this season given some key departures?
Most notably star goalkicker Matt Perri, who has booted 342 goals in four seasons with the Bombers, along with the classy Tim Lincoln, prime mover Jack Gleeson, who has ticked over the 16-match suspension threshold, the dashing Mitch Bruns and dual premiership captain Daniel Couwenberg.
And reigning premiership coach and ruckman Michael Pilcher signalled his intentions after last season to hang up the boots.
Despite the departure of Perri, the Bombers still have the makings of a potent forward line that will test opposition defences weekly.
Former Leitchville-Gunbower forward Tyler Jones is back at the Bombers after a five-season stint at Moama, in which he kicked 318 goals.
And despite all the headlines Perri earned for his goalkicking feats in recent years, the Bombers also had the classy Daniel Coates (48) and Jake Vandongen (58) combine for 106 goals last season, while the return to the field of Jack Dye from a shoulder injury in the 2017 finals is a big plus.
The Bombers are much like Huntly in that with the drop-off of their Melbourne contingent, they will be back to a more local-based team this year with an abundance of envious young talent under new coach Danny Teskera, who remains super confident they can remain among the top echelon in the competition.
Given the dominant force they have been in reaching four-straight grand finals - winning two of them - a drop off would have to be significant for the Bombers to slide out of the top bracket in the competition.
Practice matches - v Cohuna (March 29 at Cohuna).
Related: HDFNL club-by-club preview - Huntly
Related: HDFNL club-by-club preview - Elmore
Coach: Sammi Drover (first year)
Arrivals: Emmalea Wishart, Jorja Henery, Imogen McKenzie, Steph Bottcher, Amy Cherry.
Departures: Jordy Holman, Meg Dye, Gemma Angove, Tahli Brereton.
Coaching panel: Sammi Jane Drover (A-grade); Megan Simmonds (A-reserve); Kelly Rayson (B-grade); Carmen Dye (B-reserve); Gemma Angove (17-and-under); Kate Donehue (15-and under); Eliza Kervin (D primary).
Last five years: Sixth (2018); fifth (2017); fourth (2016); fourth (2015); sixth (2014).
Q and A with coach Sammi Drover
It appears as if you're A-grade team is going to be a very young one, which must be exciting for the club?
"We've picked up a few young ones, one of whom is Emmalea Wishart, who was at Eaglehawk last year and is a very handy player. Speaking with the committee, I have been keen to give some of the younger players, who have played their juniors with Leitchville-Gunbower, a chance at playing a higher level. The focus has been keeping them at the club and working with them so they can get a taste of A-grade."
How did your appointment as coach come about?
"I came back here last year as a player under Jordy (Holman) and this year I gave the club the call and said I would be interested in coaching. I played four or five years previously at Leitchy and coached them for two before going to Cohuna and playing."
"What's going to be your primary focus for the 2019 season and do you feel the team is capable of making the step-up after finishing sixth last season?
"Developing the younger players, who have hung around the club will be a priority. There are a lot of younger ones here. I'll be the oldest and there are probably only two of us (including Kate Donehue) above late-20s and the rest are under 21. I'm always positive about winning games, so we are aiming for finals. It's not unobtainable by any stretch, there's a possibility of finals if the girls keep working hard and developing their netball."
The emphasis will be on youth as Leitchville-Gunbower attempts to climb back into the finals mix, after missing out for the first time in four years in 2018.
The Bombers finished as the best side outside the top five, albeit their tally of four wins and one draw was well short of the eight wins and one draw achieved by fifth-placed Elmore.
With the Bloods only expected to improve - and Huntly and Mount Pleasant appearing capable of holding their ground - breaking into the top five is going to be a big task.
But it's a challenge new Bombers coach Sammi Drover has embraced with plenty of passion and fervour - and not without an eye to the future.
Drover, who rejoined Leitchville-Gunbower in 2018 after a couple of years with Cohuna, says the focus at Leitchville Gunbower is definitely on youth.
She anticipates only two of the seven players who take to the court for the season opener against Mount Pleasant will be aged over their early-20s.
Elsewhere, Drover has been buoyed by the number of players keen to suit up for the Bombers this year and the squad's early form in a practice match against Pyramid Hill last weekend.
"We have awesome numbers this year; we are looking at having at least nine players in our top two A teams and then our B squad will have at least 10," she said.
"There's no one who is going to miss out, it's a matter of working towards giving everyone a run each week."
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