K rock Football

Supersaints strengthened

(Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

SECOND-year coach Chris Carlon has been busy strengthening St Albans’ list, with the Supersaints confirming six new recruits before the Christmas break.

The previously reported signing of Dylan Pettingtill from GFL rivals St Joseph’s has been followed by the addition of Newtown & Chilwell’s Jacob Russell, brothers Lachie and Will Wallace Bendigo league powerhouse Strathfieldsaye, Steve Gunther from Pyramid Hill and Seb Relouw from Noradjuha-Quantong.

Russell, who finished tied for second in last year’s GFL reserves best-and-fairest with Pettingill, is no stranger to The Gordon TAFE Oval.

He was part of the combined St Albans/Newtown & Chilwell under-19 team in 2018 and won the AFL Barwon Colts Division 1 best-and-fairest that year.

“He’s coming to us to get senior opportunities, and we think he’s going to make big difference,” Carlon said.

“He definitely knows how to find the football. Lucky for us, he’s played with a number of our young boys in that combined side.”

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The Wallace brothers, who are friends with current Supersaint Damon Hemphill, featured in Strathfieldsaye’s premiership team.

Will, who spent the majority of 2019 with NAB League club Bendigo Pioneers, is currently training with Essendon’s VFL squad.

“They both bring a bit of experience with them even though they are both quite young,” Carlon said.

“Lachie will bring a bit of strength to our midfield, and Will’s a tall centre half-back.

‘He’s an exciting young talent and, hopefully, we get to see a bit of him.”

Carlon has described Gunther as a speedy outside player, while Relouw is a strong, inside midfielder who uses the ball well.

St Albans enters 2020 having not played finals in 17 years

While Carlon isn’t talking about breaking that drought, he is keen to see improvement on the foundation laid last season.

The Supersaints won just five games. However, seven losses came by 25 points or less, including by 17 points to eventual premier St Mary’s and 24 and 21 points in both their meetings with runner-up Colac.

Carlon says ball retention is a focus of pre-season.

“We turned the ball over at critical times last season when we had opportunities to score,” he said.

“We’ve got to make sure we retain the football and give ourselves the best opportunity.”

The only departures of note are former captain Tristan Battaglia to junior club Bannockburn and Melbourne-based Lloyd Toffolon (Heidelberg West).

“Getting a few more wins and being more competitive makes people want to stay,” Carlon said.

“The focus was to retain our list and then add to it as we go.

“So far, so good; everything’s looking great. We’ve some great ins that should complement the young group we’ve got.”

St Albans starts its 2020 season with a “Battle of the Break” clash with South Barwon at McDonald Reserve on April 4.

Twitter: @tom_king79