K rock Football

Devils place faith in young guns


Corio youngster Jordy Campbell will get a chance to impress at senior level in 2019. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Marcel Berens)

DARREN Bennett knows it’s the toughest job in local football, but, like his approach during more than 300 games in a Corio jumper, he isn’t shying away from the challenge.

Bennett, who filled the position left vacant by Andrew Challis’ resignation in October, takes over a club that went winless in 2018 and recorded just one victory in 2017.

“I know what we’re in for – both Greg (Ince, president) and I have had a chat about it,” Bennett said.

“You can either sit back and watch it all go by the wayside and complain about it, or you can roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty.”

Challis is no certainty to play, while Chris Warwick (East Geelong) and Dylan Shelley (Ararat) are confirmed departures.

Former junior Michael Cadman has returned home after a stint with GFL club Geelong West but is Corio’s only significant addition at this stage.

“We’re still talking to six or seven players,” Bennett said. “It’s hard to get guys in when you’ve won one game in two years.

“We’ve had really good conversations – my phone’s gone flat out.

“We’ve fallen short a couple of times, but we’re definitely still in the game with a couple.”


Whether those recruiting targets come off or not, a number of talented youngsters from the Devils’ under-19 team that finished runner-up in this year’s Division 3 grand final will get plenty of opportunity at senior level.

“There’s definitely going to be a focus on the younger guys,” Bennett said.,

“We’ve got Jordy Campbell, who won the under-19 Division 3 best-and-fairest, who’s a fantastic footballer. Nathan Kerger and Mitch Sykes.

“There are a quite a few good kids there; there’s quite a bit of untapped talent here.”

Another positive is the lack of discussion in football circles about the lack of numbers at Corio training pre-Christmas.

“Last year they said they had really, really low numbers – under ten at training,”

“We’ve had pretty much around the 20 mark every night, which is a really positive sign.

“And there’s a few guys since I’ve been back that have got off the couch and thought about playing twos or having a crack at playing senior footy.

“It’s been good.”

Former Corio juniors are also in Bennett’s sights for 2020.

“The job came up a little bit late, so there were quite a few guys who had signed contracts elsewhere when I got on board,” he said.

“But they’ve mentioned they’d be interested in coming back next year (2020).

“That’ll definitely be an aim of mine.

“A lot of the kids I coached to a premiership in the under-16s are playing at other clubs, and they’re on the radar.”

The Devils host reigning premier Thomson to open the 2019 season on April 6.

Twitter: @tom_king79