K rock Football

Lions with an eye on the future

Joel Moloney, Max Ruiter, Patrick Norton, Riley Hayden, Peter Farmer and coach Guy Morphet. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Al Packer)

LEOPOLD will tread the fine line of remaining in GFL premiership contention while also keeping an eye on the future in 2019.

This year’s preliminary finalists have farewelled premiership trio Matt Miller (retired), Nick Bourke (Kolora-Noorat) and Darcy Keast (North Warrnambool), as well as Billie Smedts (North Warrnambool) and 2017 best-and-fairest Mitch McGuire (Drysdale) since season’s end.

Premiership forward Alex Moloney is back at Memorial Park after a season with Terang Mortlake and has brought cousin Joel Moloney with him.

The Lions have also added Jayden Exell (Kyneton), son of former Geelong forward Gavin, and Peter Farmer, who most recently played in Western Australia.

A relative of Geelong legend Polly and former Melbourne and Fremantle forward Jeff, Farmer did a pre-season with the Geelong Falcons in 2015.

But it’s the improvement from a crop of talented youngsters that coach Guy Morphet is most excited about.

“We’re now looking at making an emphasis on the kids that are coming through and looking at the foundation that they’re setting,” he said.

“We’ve got some good young kids coming through in Max Ruiter; Cooper Cartledge is back from the Falcons, Patty Norton had a great first year of senior footy and Riley Hayden’s also back from the Falcons.

“We know that guys like Sam Hughes and Jai Thompson are getting to the point where they’ll start to look to peel out, so we have to look at where we go from here.”

“The kids will really put pressure on these senior guys, and they also bring that bit of enthusiasm we probably need.”

GFL: INS & OUTS

Morphet readily admits the disappointing end to Leopold’s season stung well after the final siren sounded on preliminary final day.

After finishing as minor premier with 17 wins and one loss, the Lions exited the premiership race with consecutive defeats to St Mary’s and St Joseph’s.

“I personally did a lot of soul-searching; it was pretty tough,” Morphet said. “And I know with the playing group it hard with them.

“But we don’t need any motivation now. If anything, some of the changes with our personnel is only going to be a good thing because it gives some fresh opportunities to people.

“Our first three weeks of pre-season have been electric. The guys are really motivated and really enthusiastic.”

Morphet, who will take charge of Leopold for a second season, says there were some key learnings from the losses to the Saints and Joeys.

“Making sure that if get into that position again we’re prepared a little bit better,” he said.

“And controlling the game a bit better at times. Joeys and St Mary’s, to their credit, played us a really well in those two finals.

“We learnt a lot. Last year certainly wasn’t a write-off.

“We had a very successful year on a lot of fronts. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it done when it counted.”

Leopold opens its season on April 6 with a trip to Colac.

Twitter: @tom_king79