WHEN you look Strathmore’s list of departures, you can’t help but feel last year’s preliminary finalist might take a step or two back this year.
But new coach Matthew Horne is far more bullish about his club’s prospects entering the new season.
“We’re still confident that we can be super competitive and we’re not, for lack of a better term, in a re-building phase,” Horne told essendondfl.com.au.
“We’re in a phase where we think we’ve got good young talent and we’ve still got top-end talent that’s probably getting on a little bit, but they’re still class players.
“So we’re still there to be super competitive and go as far as we can.
“It’s definitely not a re-build by any stretch. It’s about continuing to develop.”
Jaryd Cachia, Hamish McIntosh and Tom Condon are some of the headliners among the list of key departures, while Dale May and Marcus Stapleton are both highly-regarded past premiership players that are also moving on.
But the Mores have still fared well on the recruiting front, with quality rebounding defender Tom Drake and star WRFL key defender Liam Cavanagh adding some extra class to the list.
“We’re really confident in what we’ve got,” Horne said of his playing stocks.
“Yes, we’ve lost some top-end talent, but we feel like our young kids are good enough and we’ve still got a lot of good players who’ve played a good level of footy.
“We’re keen on continuing a winning culture with Strathmore.”
Ben Holian, Andrew Todorov and Kyle Weightman were three of the Strathmore youngsters who were exposed to regular senior football in 2018.
Horne’s key focus is to build on the foundation set by former coach Nathan Grima, who prioritised the development of Strathmore’s homegrown youth over heavy recruiting of established senior-age players.
“We’ve played 14 Under 19 kids over the past two years and all going well, with those guys putting in the work, we’ll try and play a similar number again,” Horne said.
“We’re really happy with the progress of Holian, Todorov and Weightman.
“Those are guys that played last year that can probably go to another level, but we’ve also recruited probably six or seven guys that are in that under-25 age bracket that have come to a new club and under good systems and structures, hopefully they can develop as well.”
Horne isn’t keen on making sweeping changes to Strathmore’s game plan and is instead looking to add to what the Mores have already done in recent years.
“Without giving away too much, we’re adding extra layers to how we played last year,” he said.
“Obviously there’s been a big emphasis on developing from within with our young guys, but then also having the older guys develop as people and players as well, which includes embracing roles that might be a little bit different to what they’re used to.
“That’s where we think our development and growth can come from.”
In: Tom Drake (defender, Hillside), Joseph Drake (defender, Hillside), Rusiate Komaitai (ruck/forward, Hillside), Jack Condon (key position, PEGS), Liam Cavanagh (defender, Sunshine), Jack Mighell (midfielder, Aberfeldie) & Jordan McGregor (forward, Shepparton)
Out: Jaryd Cachia (Aberfeldie), Tom Condon (Sturt), Daniel O’Leary (Altona), Nathan Grima (Sturt), Hamish McIntosh (Gembrook Cockatoo), Dale May (West Coburg), Nick Lower (University Blacks), Marcus Stapleton (Wooden-Hesket) & Matthew Elliott (Rupertswood)