The Western Magpies will take the field this year in a new guernsey, with a new coach and a new look team this year. (though you will have to wait until Round 2 for the traditional Sherwood stripes, as the Pies will wear a clash strip vs the vultures)
The Pies finally play their first match of the 2017 season when they meet old foes Mt Gravatt at Dittmer Park on Saturday.
New Western Magpies Coach Brydan Morgan is pleased with the pre-season work put in by his players but is now thrilled that the season proper is about to start after a later start to the season than usual.
The QAFL is down to 9 teams this year with UQ dropping back to QFA Division 1.
The Pies have new players in Jake de Winter from Kenmore and originally from Tasmania and he will be a key player across half-forward and Harry Marshall from UQ -- a strong marking key defender.
In addition Joe Murphy, a late season recruit last year, will be a key player in the midfield with his strong body and penetrating left foot, Tom Ielasi returns from overseas to add to the midfield mix and a rejuvenated and fit Logan Murray, who also missed 2017, looks ready to put his stamp on senior football.
Aaron Maricic has also been reinvigorated and has been training enthusiastically and young players in Lachie Dennis and Charlie Pershouse look bigger and stronger than last year.
The inclusion from last years Under 19s in big forward/ruckman Aaron Highland and midfield/half forward and last year's captain in Dom Misso brings to six the number of debutants in this match for the Pies (others are Murray, Marshall, De Winter and Murphy).
Brydan Morgan is not dwelling on any of the list turnover and sees this as an opportunity for a fresh start with a number of new players coming into the side and it may actually be a smoother transition to to implement his new game plan.
The nucleus of the Pies defence will still be strong with Chris Hunt, David Lewis, Luke Mitchell and Harry Marshall forming a strong backline unit. Aaron Maricic may also spend time in the back half.
Despite the loss of some experienced players, the midfield still looks particularly strong. The addition of the strong bodied Joe Murphy into the midfield mix will counterbalance the loss of Carseldine/McEvoy/Woods and the midfield still has plenty of inside grunt with new captain Drew Mitchell, Ben Jaenke-Cain, Brodie Easton and Gareth Crawfordto be joined at times by Matt Davis , who may rotate into the midfield and also play across half forward where he started his career. Brodie Easton has put in a good pre-season and will be looking to continue his run of Senior form from the 2nd half of 2016. Dom Beer may shoulder the ruck duties when he is fully fit after a delayed start to the pre-season but the young but strong Highland will take the ruck responsibilities in this Round 1 as he looks to put his stamp on senior footy.
The forward line will be smaller than previous years with Redland listed Liam Dwyer to play at CHF and Jake De Winter and Aaron Highland to be other forward targets witha mix of Davis, Brenton Saunders and Riley Easton when fit after an ACL reconstruction last year to be the medium and small forwards who can also apply defensive pressure. Redlands listed but ex-Magpie Mitchell Stallard comes into the team for Saturday and he is a classy player who will add to the Pies forward/midfield power in this match.
Of course the evergreen Val Pope will again be a key player up forward with his deceptively strong overhead marking and ability at ground level to gather the ball at full tilt. The dual Peirce Medallist will play his 200th Senior match for the Pies about mid season to underline his impact for the Pies over many years.
Brady Allen will miss the first half of the season after an ACL reconstruction late last year but his progress has been rapid and is looking to play the latter half of the season.
Western Magpies v Mt Gravatt at Dittmer Park, Mt Gravatt on Saturday, April 22nd at 2 pm
B: Logan Murray, Charlie Pershouse, Luke Mitchell
HB: David Lewis, Chris Hunt, Harry Marshall
C: Joe Murphy, Drew Mitchell (C), Aaron Maricic
HF: Mitchell Stallard, Liam Dwyer, Matt Davis (vc)
F: Val Pope, Jake De Winter, Brenton Saunders ®
Foll: Aaron Highland, Ben Jaenke-Cain, Tom Ielasi
I/C: Gareth Crawford, Brodie Easton, Lachie Dennis, Dom Misso