The Western Magpies have recruited well in the off-season with several new players joining the club and also have welcomed the return of a number of key former players.
To date, the prize recruit has been former Brisbane Lion, Ryan Harwood with his 81 matches of AFL experience expected to add midfield grunt and composure to the Magpies midfield.
Other new players to join the club include:
Dylan Adkins (Redland NEAFL), a 198cm ruck/key position who will add height and mobility to the Pies big man department. The 21 year old Adkins has been training the house down after crossing from Redland where he played in the ruck and at fullback.
Jono Macanawai (UQ AFC), 21 yo, a classy midfielder from UQ where he won the Red Lions Best and Fairest last year. At 180cm, he is a hard working and skilful midfielder who can also push forward and will add to the Pies midfield brigade.
Luke Brennan (UQ AFC), 21 year old left footed winger or running half back who can take a solid mark. He had an injury interrupted season last year and is keen to have a full season and test himself out at QAFL level.
Lucas Jackson (Griffith Moorooka AFC), 21 yo 194cm utility who is somewhat of an unknown addition having spent the previous 2 seasons impressing with Griffith Moorooka, is now ready to step up and challenge himself at the QAFL level. So far Jackson has been like a sponge on the track learning plenty of new tools from the likes of Corrie, Adkins, Moore and Highlands. Jackson adds another big marking, mobile tall to the Magpies list and is one to keep an eye on.
Lochlan McDonald joins from the Woodsmen where he impressed on a wing and across half back with his run and carry, and after playing 3 seasons with the Woodsmen he has been encouraged to push for higher honours. He regularly impressed for the Woodsmen and also in several Reserves matches last year and will be striving for a senior spot in 2018.
Past players returning include ex-AFL player and club leading goalkicker Anthony Corrie who re-joins after a successful playing and coaching stint at Kenmore. Corrie’s experience and footy smarts will be a valuable asset to the Pies and he will also be called upon to act in a mentoring role with many of the youngsters at the club both in the senior squad and throughout youth football. With a number of last year’s Colts grand final team stepping up, Corrie’s teaching and advice will be used to fast track these players into regular senior football. Two of the Colts who have stood out in the pre-season are half back Tristan Dowdy and winger Sam Hartog, both of whom showed promise last year when called up the the Reserves.
Recent club captains Gerard Moore and Lachlan Woods have been training strongly and Moore will provide a strong marking forward target, something the Pies lacked last year. He will demand a quality defender and his ability to mark or bring the ball to ground will be a big asset for the Pies, along with his famously strong work-rate.
Moore returns after 3 years with the Woodsmen, including the 2017 Best & Fairest which saw his Woodsmen teammates encourage him back into senior football.
Woods is expected to return after a year with the Woodsmen due to work commitments and his strong body and fierce attack on the football will add to the Pies midfield brigade. Dynamic small forward Kale Reed also returns from Kenmore and his efficiency around goals will give the Pies another scoring option.
All returning players add to the playing strength at the club, however just as importantly have been significant drivers of the culture at the Pies in past years.
Coach Brydan Morgan highlighted Brady Allen, Aaron Highlands, Ben Jaenke-Cain, Dylan Adkins and Anthony Corrie as players who have stood out in the pre-season with their attitude and effort, showing the way for their clubmates.
Allen in particular has been fantastic and he could be in for a break-out season—all at the Pies know that he is capable of breaking a game open and 2018 may be the year he takes the next step to be an elite player at QAFL level, after recovering from an ACL injury through 2017. Aaron Highlands had a suberb debut season last year and for a youngster he showed great maturity and toughness in shouldering the Pies’ ruck load last year. With Adkins to share the load he will be even more of an impact player in 2018. Adkins and Corrie have led by example on the track and Jaenke-Cain has also had a terrific pre-season to date.
Virtual recruits are key defender David Lewis, who missed a large part of last season with a knee injury and utility Aaron Maricic, who also missed the latter half of the season with injury.
Captain Drew Mitchell also looks fit and with co-Bill Peirce Medallist Gareth Crawford will again a key component of the engine room for the Pies. B & F Runner-Up Tom Ielasi is also back on the track as is dual Peirce Medallist Val Pope after an overseas trip and with Matt Davis, Luke Mitchell, Brenton Saunders & Harry Marshall, the Pies have the nucleus of a strong side that will challenge for a finals berth in 2018. Youngsters in the Easton brothers—Brodie and Riley— and Lachie Dennis all stepped up last year and will be expected to be stronger in 2018.
The Pies are also hopeful of a couple of ex-players in Alex Dickfos (expected back from the UK) and Alex Kitching returning to the fold at some stage but are still in discussion for their return, along with some other exciting prospects.
On the debit side the Pies lose Charlie Pershouse to UQ—he is travelling in the latter half of the year and wishes to play some football with his brother, Caleb Franks to Queensland under 18s, Billy Johnson who is listed as a Lions NEAFL top up player, and Sam Copland to try his stuff at Redlands.
Coach Brydan Morgan’s thoughts
We have taken training intensity up a few notches, and we needed to to be competitive in 2018. We actively recruited in some key areas from a positional point of view and also looked to increase our average age within our best 22. This will have a big impact on our on field leadership and assist the more inexperienced players that played senior football in 2017 to develop and grow their game alongside some more experienced players.
Training has been first class and all players and coaches have committed to the next progression within our game plan for 2018.
We are in good position to have a successful 2018 season but as the players know we have lots of work ahead of us.