New Leongatha Under 18 coach Nathan Lynch with senior coach Beau Vernon.
By Mitch Guy
THE Leongatha Parrots have started the 2015 campaign on the right track with up to 50 players hitting the track and a sense of optimism around the club.
New coach Beau Vernon said he isn’t going to set a pass mark for his first season at the helm.
“I don’t see it as too difficult to go from seventh to win the flag; I genuinely think we can be a contender this year coming,” he said.
“If the boys commit and buy into what we’re trying to do then I reckon we can give it a real shake.”
The club has retained most of its list from last season with Marc Truscio’s move overseas the only notable departure at present.
And the club has bolstered its playing stocks immensely with the return of a number of key ex-players.
Best and fairest winner from 2012 Tas Clingan returns from a stint overseas and will no doubt improve Leongatha’s midfield strength.
Up forward, Jake Best returns to the club after two years at the Casey Scorpions and should be one of the premier forwards of the competition, along with high flying forward Cade Maskell who returns from Port Melbourne.
Rounding out the list of recruits is former Kilcunda-Bass junior Dale Hoghton, who played for Gippsland Power before spending time with the Casey Scorpions and Williamstown.
Beau will not have to look too far for support in his first year as coach, with two experienced campaigners on board as his assistant coaches.
Former Collingwood-listed player Tristan Francis will be an assistant coach and will take Tuesday training sessions in Melbourne for the Melbourne-based players throughout the season.
Paul Le Page, a two-time premiership defender with the Parrots who played 200 games, has also put his support behind Beau and will pass on his knowledge of the game.
Beau said he is also excited about the appointment of senior player Nathan Lynch as the under 18’s coach, with support from fellow players Cade Maskell and Brent Lynch as assistants.
“It’s exciting for the junior boys to get those three senior players looking after them and helping them out,” he said.
“We’ll get the same sort of game plan happening and same things filtered all through the club.
“I really want to develop the juniors, get the under 16s and under 18s progressing up.
“I want to get good development out of them, and continued improvement throughout the whole group.
“I’ve seen it in some blokes already – the way they’re training and they want to make something out of their footy now. It’s exciting times.”
Youngsters Jackson Harry and Nick Tuckett have impressed the coach on the track with their attitude, and the club has had Nick Argento, Lachie Wright, Louis Riseley and Kaj Patterson training with Gippsland Power.
Beau has continued his university studies and his part-time role with the AFL, as well as some motivational speaking.
He said he is enjoying his time as coach.
“It’s a big challenge especially before Christmas – people have got stuff on and some blokes don’t commit before Christmas,” he said.
“I just can’t wait for the games to start; I’ll be like all the players I reckon.
“It’s still only early days at the moment but hopefully come season time everyone’s up and about and flying, and we’ll have a really fit team.”