2024 Ballarat Pre-Season Preview
With pre-season preparations well under way and Round 1 quickly approaching, Scoop has gone one-on-one with all 11 senior football coaches ahead of the 2024 McDonalds BFNL season.
COACH: Chris Maple
Previous Experience/Accolades: 2016 Western Bulldogs AFL Premiership Match Day Assistant Coach, 2014 Footscray VFL Premiership Coach.
ON THE RECORD:
SCOOP: Well Chris, a year down in charge of the Swans - what did you learn about the group and where they're at and more broadly the BFNL given you've come from an elite program in the AFL with the Western Bulldogs?
CHRIS MAPLE: We're a young team like many across the BFNL which is a positive. I just really hope they stay in the competition (not lured elsewhere). The quality of the grounds have improved a lot too since my playing days.
SCOOP: Callum Wellings (25yo, 181cm) was a great pickup ahead of last season but unfortunately he was unsighted for various reasons. Is he good to go this year after a year off?
CM: Yep, he's back in Oz and we look forward to seeing him go around through the midfield.
SCOOP: You often made reference in your post-match comment last season it was essentially a quarter here and there that was costing you dearly from gaining a result. What's the ingredient to go about rectifying that in the new season?
CM: That's the part of having a young group and clearly an area of growth for us. The new additions bring physicality and experience which will help out the younger boys in that space. Expect some speed humps a long way but I’d like to think we're heading in the right direction.
SCOOP: Tell us about Lachie Dalgleish - he reads a more than handy acquisition and the mail is he's a terrific bloke. Elaborate for us on his role...
CM: Yep your mail is right, good fella. He's arrived with an eye toward high level coaching in the future. Lachie (30yo,185cm) is well credentialled and will play a variety of roles.
SCOOP: Andrew Hooper (32yo) has been an ageless contributor for the club for some time. Apart from his forward craft we're privy seeing when he's up and about, what does he offer the young brigade off field regarding preperation and gameday?
CM: Hoops has great aspirations in the coaching space and has really grown as a leader and positive influence for our young group.
CM: Backline will be stronger, and our midfield should progress.
CM: Debuted 16 players last year so we're hopeful the youth will progress with a year of senior footy under their belts.
PRE SEASON TRAINING
CM: It has been been good. We had a month block pre-Christmas before returning on January 23.
MOST UNDER AND OVERRATED STAT IN TODAY'S BFNL FOOTY
CM: Possessions – Overrated, Repeat F50 entries - Underrated
PRACTICE MATCH SCHEDULE
Saturday March 23 v Sebastopol (A)
Thursday April 4 v Dunnstown (H, Night Match).
Lachie Dalgleish (Drysdale), Harry Butler (Carisbrook), James Carpenter (Uni Blacks, VAFA), Zak Rinaldi (Carisbrook), Bailey Fraser (Returned)
Bailey Vander Heuvel (Leopold), Daniel Kennedy (Retired), Lawson Prendergast (Work - Perth), Mitch McGrath (Newlyn). Sam Fisher (SMW Rovers), Tyler Constable (Work-Bendigo)
VFL AFFILIATED PLAYERS
Tristan Maple (Footscray), Angus Bade (Foostscray)
SCOOP: Even draw for the Swans ranking fourth easiest. Avoid double ups with Darley and Melton who lost just four home and away games between them last year and don't see either of them after Round 5. The Swans have three trips to the east - and just one after Round 5 at Melton South. Maple's young group get 2023 bottom two sides Lake Wendouree and Melton South twice.
IMPROVERS TIP (OUTSIDE OF BALLARAT)
FLAG TIP (OUTSIDE OF BALLARAT)
CM: North Ballarat