Coach: Darren Walsh (2nd year)
Last year: 6th - 5-11
Arrivals: Daniel Davie, Cody Green, Bryce Hinneberg, Billy Mahony, Zeb Murrell, Joseph Whiting.
Departures: Ed Ratcliffe.
Player points: 46
Last flag: 2006
R1: v L'ville-Gunbower (a)
R2: v White Hills (a)
R4: v North Bendigo (h)
Past five years:
2018: 6th - 5-11
2017: 9th - 2-13-1
2016: 6th - 5-11
2015: 7th - 4-12
2014: 4th - 11-7
Last season's MVP top 5:
Dale Young - 37
Ben Weightman - 33
Mitch Bennett - 33
Chris Black - 29
Nicholas Butler - 25
Last season's top 5 goalkickers:
Ben Weightman - 60
Hugo Steinfort - 17
Charles Trotman - 10
Seb Spijkerman - 9
Fraser Cole - 8
Q and A with coach Darren Walsh
How big a priority was it for you to bring in some assistance to ease the load on Ben Weightman up forward?
"It was a huge priority for us... getting a big centre half-forward in Dan Davie, Luke Marchesi back from injury, which is huge, and Cody Green certainly makes our forward line a lot more dangerous if we can get the ball down to them and will help to take the pressure off Ben."
You've recruited three senior players from Kyneton in Dan Davie, Billy Mahony and Bryce Hinneberg. What do you hope they bring to the mix for Mount Pleasant in terms of their Bendigo league experience?
"It has been all about training standards and intensity with those three, as well as game sense.
"They have been quality Bendigo league players who our young players can look up to.
"Already training has changed a lot to last year in terms of what you'd expect good teams to train like. That has really started to click for us, so if it can carry over into games it can only hold us in good stead.
"The old saying is you train as you play, so we're going to improve from, firstly, the players we've picked up and, secondly, our training standards."
Last year was a re-set for the club coming off a wooden spoon in 2017 where the focus was purely on improvement. Does than focus now switch this year to talking finals?
"We want to improve again and whether we make finals or not we'll have to see.
"I think the competition is going to be a lot more open than recent years, so that gives great opportunity for clubs like ourselves, White Hills and Lockington to keep improving in a season where there's probably going to be a lot of eight-point games."
Only two seasons after the club's rare wooden spoon in 2017, Mount Pleasant looks to have the building blocks in place to put finals firmly back on the agenda.
Importantly for the Blues is they have been able to bring in some recruits that will lessen the load on star forward Ben Weightman, who last year kicked 60 of their 166 goals.
Dan Davie from Kyneton will provide a big-bodied presence inside the Blues' forward 50, while Cody Green from Eaglehawk will also be another forward option.
And Luke Marchesi will be just like a recruit for the Blues given he only played three games last year before hip surgery who will also add Mount Pleasant's forward mix.
Davie is one of three recruits the Blues have secured from Kyneton, along with Bryce Hinneberg and Billy Mahony.
Hinneberg will play off half-back, while Mahony is a unassuming hard-nut midfielder who was the Bendigo league's rising star in 2014.
The Blues last year made took a step forward from two wins in 2017 to five in 2018 and also played well enough at times to lead both Colbinabbin and Leitchville-Gunbower at half-time, before dropping away.
The Blues should be more equipped to compete for longer this year and if they can improve by at least another three wins like they did last season then a return to finals for the first time since 2014 could be on the cards for the competition's most successful club that is hungry to again reignite its glory days.
Practice matches - v Moama (March 16 at Moama), v Castlemaine (March 30 at Castlemaine).
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Coach: Belinda Pinner (third year)
Last year: Third
Arrivals: Aish Tupper, Sarah Mannes, Jessica Cowell, Kara Thompson, Karly O'Toole, Carine Comer.
Departures: Kate McCann, Chantal Moore, Dearne Bowes, Sarah Quinn.
Coaching panel: Belinda Pinner (A-grade and A-reserve); Chris Greene (B-grade and B-reserve); Hayley Martiniello and Caitlyn Walsh (17-and-under); Jayne Norton (15-and-under); and Georgina Eddy (D-Primary).
Last four years: Third (2018); third (2017); sixth (2016); seventh (2015); third (2014).
Q and A with netball operations manager Anita Wild
How do you feel the team stacks up against last year's line-up, which finished the season third?
"We've lost a couple of key players in defence, so depending on how our kids step, top three might be a challenge. But I'm sure we can be a finals team - that's the aim. And what happens from there will be pot-luck. I still think White Hills are the team - we have heard they have recruited quite well again. They just keep getting better and better."
You have lost a couple of real handy players in Kate McCann and Chantal Moore. How will the recruits go about covering their loss?
"I think what we are missing is that real tall goaler, and maybe some height at both ends of the court. The likes of Lou Dupuy (Colbinabbin playing both ends of the court), and Anna-Grace Close and Ash Gilmore at White Hills, those clubs do have that tall target and that's what we are missing. Hopefully we will be able to get it into someone short and away we go."
Is this the year Mount Pleasant makes the jump from top-three to top-two, or even the top-of-the-tree?
The Blues are certainly hoping so.
There's little doubt Mount Pleasant has been the clear third-best team in the competition the last two years.
Under normal circumstances they might have even jagged a grand final berth in one of those years, but such has been the might of Colbinabbin and White Hills in that period, achieving the ultimate success has been an excruciating task.
Injuries did not help their plight in 2018, with the Blues harder hit than most in the second half of the season, so a second-consecutive preliminary final exit should only steel coach Belinda Pinner's team this season.
The Blues will have to make do without its best two defenders from last season, Kate McCann, who is travelling during 2019, and Chantal Moore.
While the incoming talent includes the returning Karly O'Toole and Sarah Mannes and talented dual sports code performer Aish Tupper, who crosses from Golden Square.
The Blues have a wealth of existing talent, led by their coach, Megan Baird, Charlotte Webb, Georgia Eddy, Paris Bickley, Caitlyn Walsh and Carly Dorrington, which should be enough to again seriously challenge for a top-five spot.
The Blues' practice match schedule tosses up Moama (this weekend) and Strathfieldsaye (this Thursday).
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