Thomastown has significantly bolstered its forward line as it looks to push up the A Plus Labour Solutions Division 2 ladder following three-successive fifth-place finishes.
2015 club leading goal kicker Matthew Ferraro has returned from a two-year stint at Bundoora and will be joined at Main Street Reserve by former Hurstbridge and Fitzroy Stars forward Daniel Francis and South Morang young gun Anthony Capeci.
All three will help to enhance the Bears’ attacking prowess, after last year averaging 75 points per game.
Ferraro kicked 62 goals when he last played for the club in 2015, while Francis topped the Division 2 goal kicking in 2016 with 68 majors for the Stars. 20-year-old Capeci enjoyed a breakout season in 2017 and earned selection in the Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 Team of the Year.
Speaking to NFNL.org.au, Thomastown coach Ben Chapman said there would be no problem squeezing the three into the same forward line as Jacob Osei-Duro.
“They are all big imposing key forwards, but they are different and have different strengths. We think our setup will work and we will know more once games start being played,” Chapman said.
“We identified late last year that we needed to find some forwards that would help take the pressure off Jacob. He has had to carry a fair burden for a little while on his own so bringing in three ready-made forwards will add another dimension to our forward set up.
“Anthony Capeci is an exciting one as he is a smaller type and will also spend time up the ground but will most definitely compliment the forwards when he is down that end.
“Our moves will probably enable our forward structure to not be one-dimensional, which we probably were last year, and these three guys will make us a bit more unpredictable to the opposition and hard to match up on at times.”
Despite last year finishing fifth for the third-successive season, Thomastown showed vast improvement in Chapman’s first year as coach.
The Bears were in finals contention for much of the season, despite a host of key midfielders being sidelined, and finished with a 9-9 record – scoring four more wins than in 2016.
Entering his second season at the helm, Chapman was hopeful the inclusion of the forward trio would help Thomastown play finals in A Plus Labour Solutions Division 2 for the first time since 2008.
“Like any other club, we are talking finals and hopefully from there winning premierships and that’s what we are aspiring to do,” he said.
“The main focus for me as a coach, and the club as a whole, is to improve and take it one week at a time.
“I’m a big believer in control the controllable so what we’ve done is been able to assemble a list that we’re confident will improve and push us to that next step which is obviously making finals.
“We’ve got no control over our opposition and what they’re going to be like, so if we can improve as a club from our efforts last year and do that for a sustainable period during the season, then there is no reason why we can’t play finals and from there win the premiership.”
Thomastown has also signed Bundoora midfielder Salvatore Mamone and Jacana’s Lane Tucker. Both have previously won premierships at senior level and Chapman believes they will bring the professionalism that comes with success.
“The best thing about Sal, which I noticed early on the track, is he knows what it takes to be successful at Division 1 level, so his professionalism is very valuable to this young group,” Chapman said.
“Lane Tucker is only 21 years old, so we are happy to bring in someone so experienced for his age.
“Obviously he knows something about winning a premiership, so we think his professionalism at such a young age will be something we can value from.
“Not to mention he will play a practice match against his old side Jacana which is a pretty exciting thing to look forward to early in the year.”
With close to 80 players on the training track throughout the pre-season, Chapman says his club’s best 22 is far from being confirmed ahead of the Round 1 clash against Lower Plenty.
“I don’t think our best 22 ever is or will be sorted to be honest,” Chapman said.
“I think if you only have a set 22 then that leaves the door open for trouble. You need healthy competition and given our list there is about 35 players putting their hand up for Round 1.”
* PRE-SEASON DAY CAMP EVENT
Bodylab Fitness Club will be holding a pre-season training session for all Thomastown senior players on March 3 at Wild About Wildlife (Kilmore).
The day will include a variety of team-building and football conditioning drills that are designed to challenge the mental and physical state of all players.
Bodylab have joined forces with land owners Wild About Wildlife in a bid to create an environmental friendly day camp. They will incorporate multiple team drills, which will assist with site development and benefit both the animals and environment.
There will be various media outlets attending the event which will make it that bit more special for all involved. The day will likely to go from 10am to mid-afternoon and will conclude with a team barbeque and refreshments.
Thomastown is still hoping to find a sponsor for the day, which will assist in the camps costs. These costs include payment for food, drinks, training equipment and donations. It is also a great way to promote your business on national TV and newspapers.
If you are interested in sponsoring the event or making a small donation, please contact Rob Mazniovski on 0412 362 126.