Different look for Polders

April 12, 2024 12:45 pm in by
Tom Gordon played just eight games in 2023. (Marcel Berens/Sports Media)

Reigning GFNL premier Leopold will have a slightly different look to the team that defeated South Barwon in last year’s decider when it hosts Geelong West to start the new season.

Current indications are the Polders have seven changes.

Rob Maibaum (Bannockburn) and Mitch Patten (Surfers Paradise) are no longer at Memorial Park, Trent West has retired, and Will Kilpatrick is having a break from footy.

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Luke Justin has been named as an emergency, while Daniel Pitcher and preliminary final hero Billy Ritchie are in the reserves.

“You lose players, and that’s part and parcel of local footy—whether it’s work or lifestyle,” captain Marcus Thompson told K Rock’s Beyond the Boundary podcast.

“But the opportunity to get new players in and opportunities for existing players to step into new roles is exciting.”

Tate Porter (Merrivale) is the lone club debutant, with the 2022 grand final quartet of Tom Feely, Jake Pitt, James Edmonds and Tom Gordon providing adequate cover for the departed.

With West’s retirement, Kyle Bumpstead will fill the ruck role after winning last year’s Allthorpe Medal as GFNL reserve grade best-and-fairest despite playing just nine home-and-away games.

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Billy Clark has been rewarded for a strong pre-season with his first senior game since Round 5 last year.

Due to injury, Queenscliff product Max Annandale and Adelaide recruit Sam Dukalskis couldn’t be considered.

“They’re both doing a bit of rehab and trying to get their bodies right at the moment,” Thompson said.

“(They’re) another two exciting young fellas to join what are pretty strong key (position) stocks we’ve got—both back and forward.”

Leopold will unfurl its second GFNL flag before the match, with Shelley Hockley, the wife of 2023 president Richard Hockley, given the honour, as is tradition at the Lions.

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2023 grand final best-on-ground Logan Wagener will make his 100th appearance for the Polders.

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South Barwon will have six changes from the team that lost to Leopold in last year’s decider when it crosses Waurn Ponds Creek for the John Nankervis Shield meeting with Grovedale.

The Swans unveil five teenage debutants – Ethan Borys (Grovedale/Geelong Falcons), Paddy Kelly (Nullawil), Blair Huggins (Strathmore/Calder Cannons),  Dustin Burns (Lake Boga) and Tom Burke (Torquay/Geelong Falcons).

After debuting in Round 3 last year, Tom Peirce will play his second game.

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Coach Mark Neeld couldn’t consider Todd White, who will make his Geelong VFL debut, co-Mathieson medalist Fraser Fort (managed), Harry Cunningham (shoulder) and Aaron Hutchinson (knee).

Andrew Boseley has joined Anakie, and Jackson Carmody will play in the reserves as he works on developing as a midfielder.

Cal Hetherington is facing a lengthy stint on the sidelines with a knee issue, with coach Mark Neeld revealing to K rock Football that the Bannockburn recruit won’t be seen until the second half of the season.

In addition to coach Jacob Spolding, the Tigers’ new faces include debutant Tom Schulze, Ajoung Maker (Yarraville Seddon) and Tom Wisken (Collegians—Perth).

Williamstown-listed Darby Henderson will make his first senior appearance for Grovedale since 2021.

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Bell Park will unveil talented South Warrnambool premiership player Ollie Bridgewater when it hosts Colac at Hamlyn Park.

Eli Pearce (White Hills) will also pull on a Dragons jumper for the first time.

Bell Park will wear a new design in the first half of the season, with a white jumper featuring a green vee.

After two seasons with Geelong VFL, the Dragons will have the services of Ben Lloyd permanently as a playing assistant coach.

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Chaise Murray will play his first senior game since 2018 after returning to the Tigers from Irrewarra-Beeac, former junior Oli Butler debuts after spending time at Modewarre and Birregurra, as will South Colac recruit Sam Giblett.

North Shore appears set to take an unchanged team into the Paddy Cahir Cup clash with Lara at Windsor Park.

The Seagulls were more than competitive in a 46-point loss to Newtown & Chilwell to open the new season.

The Cats have named co-coach Devon Smith for his first game for the club since 2009.

Smith, who played 182 games at the GWS Giants and Essendon, winning a best-and-faires at the Bombers, missed the 2023 season with a ruptured Achilles.

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Former South Barwon big man Ryan Bell is also set to debut for Lara, which will be without Sam Purdy for the season after he ruptured an ACL in last week’s practice match loss to Darley.

Newtown & Chilwell has named midfielder Ned Harris and swingman Braden Hocking after for its mouthwatering match-up with St Mary’s at Elderslie Reserve.

The experienced pair missed last week’s win over North Shore.

As K rock Football revealed on Monday, former Essendon player Brayden Ham has stepped away from his Geelong VFL commitments and will play for the Saints.

Making their first appearance for St Mary’s are former Glenelg and Frankston big man Nick Minchin, and Mytleford recruit Elijah Wales.

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Hamish Bourke will make his first senior appearance since Round 9, 2002, and Harvey Ryan has been named. He has not played at 2 o’clock since Round 7, 2022.

Former North Shore defender Jack Leonard and ex-Grovedale player Liam Beston will debut for St Joseph’s as it travels to St Albans.

James Gow and Luke Webb are back after spending last year at Koroit and Strathfieldsaye, respectively.

Reigning Rookie of the Year, Hunter Lewis (leg) and Werribee-listed ruck Oli Northam (arm) are right to go after injury curtailed their 2023 seasons.

The Supersaints welcome back young gun Brock McDonald from a knee injury that ended his 2023 campaign before it began.

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New faces on Alex Tortora’s team include Zac Larkins, who represented Vic Country’s Diversity All-Stars last year, Joel Grigsby, a fellow Newtown & Chilwell product, and Bradley Horsham (Carisbrook), who has GFNL senior experience at Geelong West.

St Albans will also debut junior products, Sam Ryan and Ben Gadd.

Northern Bullants-listed Sam Donegan has been named as an emergency.

X: @krockfootball


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