LOCKINGTON-Bamawm United coach Brodie Collins says his side is ready to embrace the pressure of expectation in the Heathcote District league this season.
The Cats were the red-hot premiership fancies for the 2020 season that was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Again in 2021 the Cats are shaping as the team to beat given the calibre of list that has been put together to be led by first-time coach Collins.
The Cats have retained all of the Eaglehawk contingent of players they had secured for last year - coach Collins, Jesse Collins, Lachlan Atherton, Trent Bacon and Ben McPhee.
The Cats have also added James McPhee from Rochester and Kyabram's Tom Holman to a side that finished top-three in 2019 before a bitterly disappointing straight-sets finals exit.
Holman is a four-time premiership defender with Kyabram and former Goulburn Valley inter-league player who was described by Collins when he signed as "a serious talent."
Also joining the Cats is Tony McMahon, while the only departures from the 2019 list are the classy Zeik Johnston, who will play with Natte-Bealiba, and Gavin Broad, as well as former coach Kahl Oliver, who stepped away from the role in July last year.
Of the new players to the Cats since their last game - the losing 2019 first semi-final to Mount Pleasant - Brodie and Jesse Collins, Bacon and Ben and James McPhee are all former players with the club who have returned home as one-pointers.
"Given a lot of us have all played together before in the juniors at Locky, I think that gives us a fairly good starting point," Collins said.
What was already a team laden with talent is going to be all the more formidable given the quality inclusions, which is bound to make competition for spots red-hot.
"Talking to a lot of people from inside and outside the club, there probably wasn't enough numbers going through the midfield in 2019," Collins said.
"I'm hopeful that that the guys we've brought in will improve that and our midfield can become one of our strong points now.
"So that's one of the areas I've tried to hone in on."
The two Collins brothers, Atherton and Ben McPhee - also a noted goalkicker - certainly strengthen up the Cats' midfield brigade.
Collins is also excited by what James McPhee brings to a forward line that is already blessed with multiple options given the Cats had four players - Pat Gardiner (45), Lachlan Collins (44), Thomas Leech (42) and Jarod Bacon (32) - who kicked 30-plus goals in 2019.
"James is a really dynamic, electric player. He's really good on the lead and using his body. He will play full-forward for us, but also pinch hit on-ball as well at times," Collins said.
"The club has been around the mark for the past couple of years, so, hopefully, with a few tweaks and changes we can take the next step. Ollie did a good job getting the side going again, so, hopefully, I can put the finishing touches on," Collins said.
LOCKINGTON-BAMAWM UNITED FIXTURE:
Round 1 - v Heathcote (a)
Round 2 - v Colbinabbin (h)
Round 3 - v Mount Pleasant (a)
Round 4 - v Elmore (h)
Round 5 - Bye
Round 6 - v Huntly (a)
Round 7 - v Leitchville-Gunbower (h)
Round 8 - v White Hills (a)
Round 9 - v North Bendigo (h)
Round 10 - v Heathcote (h)
Round 11 - v Colbinabbin (a)
Round 12 - v Mount Pleasant (h)
Round 13 - v Elmore (a)
Round 14 - Bye
Round 15 - v Huntly (h)
Round 16 - v Leitchville-Gunbower (a)
Round 17 - v White Hills (h)
Round 18 - v North Bendigo (a)
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