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Saints covering all bases

REIGNING Division 3 premier Watsonia will begin its assault on its upcoming Division 2 campaign when the club begins pre-season training on Monday night.

The Saints this year broke a 29-year premiership drought when they defeated Epping in the Division 3 decider to earn promotion next season.

Senior coach Corey McCall has ensured his club has every base covered as it embarks on a new chapter in the club’s history, with new additions to the coaching panel.

“We want to work to get better going up into Division 2, and one thing that we did was review last season and just felt that the workload between the coaches was a bit much,” McCall said.

To help spread the coaches’ workload, Nathan Moon has been appointed senior assistant coach.

He brings extensive experience from Doncaster in the Eastern Football League and Coburg in the VFL.

“We wanted to get some more coaches on board so we got Nathan Moon who’s got a similar background to me – from the EFL,” McCall said.

“(We’re) really glad to get him on. He’s a level two coach and has a development background as well where he did some work with Coburg.

“He’s probably got an aim to coach his own side but this gives him experience within the league, so it’s a good fit for both of us.

“He’s been really active for us over the pre-season too. He’s done a lot of good work.”

Tom McCluskey has been appointed the club’s reserves coach for the upcoming season.

“He played last year but he wants to get involved in coaching. He put his hand up. He’s brought across some guys with him as well,” McCall said.

McCall believes delegating roles and responsibilities with the higher demands of Division 2 will allow everyone to enjoy their footy more.

“We’ve probably tripled the amount of coaches from what we had last year.

“The more people you have involved in your footy club, you delegate your roles and responsibilities out and everyone tends to enjoy it a lot more, rather than trying to carry a larger burden of the workload.

“What we’re looking for is blokes with some background, but guys who love their footy – love the modern game, love coaching and happy to do whatever it takes on game-day to help us compete in Division 2.”

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The playing group will embrace the challenge of Division 2 footy in 2017, such was the feedback from the off-season player reviews.

With an under-19s system in place, McCall is looking forward to a sustainable future in Division 2.

“We had player reviews in the off-season and the general feedback was ‘let’s bring it on’,” McCall said.

“We don’t want to go up there and come straight back down. If we’re going up to Division 2 and the club wants to progress, we’ve got our alignment with Mill Park now with Joel Steindl (Mill Park under 19s coach).

“We need to try and keep this culture that we’ve built there, keep ourselves in Division 2 and hopefully some of these under-19s start coming through and making their way into the seniors at Watsonia which will be sustainable for the club long term.”

Best and fairest winner Matt Buzinskas has recovered from the jaw injury which saw him miss the historic premiership win in September, and is expected to come back bigger and better in 2017.

“At the moment, we’re expecting him to come back and play for us,” McCall said.

“However, he is from the eastern suburbs and the travel takes its toll so we’ve just told him to have a bit of a freshen up.

“I had a chat to him (this week), so hopefully he’ll be raring to go come pre-season.”

Along with the hopeful return of Buzinskas, an overwhelming majority have re-committed to the club for 2017, according to McCall.

“I think every football club has a turnover of some part of their list. We’re hopeful that we’ve retained 95% of our list, that’d be a great result, that’s what we did the year before,” he said.

“We’ve got a core group of guys that are at the footy club that have stuck together since they were at the footy club for the last three, four, five years.

“The last two years they’ve earnt that respect off the competition, people can see that they’re enjoying their footy and people tend to say ‘gee that looks like a good place to play footy’.”

The club is expected to announce its new signings next week when it begins its pre-season campaign.

“To get to where we are, we pinpointed guys through a particular criteria, rather than just getting anyone,” McCall said.

“We’re continuing down that path. We have got some guys already that have committed to the club so we hope to announce them when we start the pre-season.”

The Saints look set for an intense pre-season campaign, McCall has forewarned ahead of Monday.

“One thing’s for sure – when it starts, it starts.”