Bears confident of making the grade

Published on Friday, February 23, 2018

Author : Jarryd Barca

Banyule coach Pete Davey believes remaining competitive on a consistent basis will give his side a chance of featuring in the A Plus Labour Solutions Division 2 finals.

Adamant his playing group has improved considerably since winning last year’s Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 premiership in just the club’s third season in the league, Davey is confident the Bears will be a difficult team to conquer in 2018.

“On the camp we just had, we just sort of spoke about just making sure that we’re competitive,” Davey told

“If you looked at last year, Division 2 was probably the most uneven of the three divisions which is probably not going to be the case this season.

“Realistically, everyone’s going to say that they’re a chance of finishing in the top-four and that’s what everyone’s looking for. Ideally, we’re no different to that.

“We think just being competitive, regardless of who we’re playing against, is probably going to make our transition into this division a lot easier.”

Banyule’s goal of consolidating became much more imaginable in October following the signing of retired Essendon midfielder Brent Stanton.

Stanton, who played 255 AFL games for the Bombers across 14 seasons, was a seven-time junior best and fairest winner at Banyule.

He has also signed on as a development coach at Carlton and will work closely with the Blues’ VFL affiliate, Northern Blues.

Davey lauded the contribution Stanton has made to Banyule over the pre-season and expects him to have a greater on-field impact than first expected.

“His VFL fixture has been very kind to us. At first, I thought it was only going to be five or six, but now it looks like he’ll be playing maybe nine or 10 games,” he said.

“From the outside, a lot of people have their views on what it is that AFL players bring when they come back, but he’s been fantastic.

“We had a chat a couple of weeks ago and he said ‘I don’t want to step on your toes or anything like that’. He’s really calculated with what he brings and only says things when he feels like he needs to.

“When he speaks, everyone listens. He’s been phenomenal at training.”

Banyule’s 2018 prospects have also been bolstered by the inclusion of fellow recruits Mannon Johnston (Morwell), Jake Truefeldt (Heidelberg) and Jacob Mitchell (Northcote Park) – contributors Davey feels very optimistic about.

Johnston kicked 196 goals in 130 appearances for the Gippsland League club and booted 25 goals in his sole season with Northcote Park in 2016, while Truefeldt and Mitchell have also played senior football in the NFNL’s top tier.

“Mannon’s actually coming across as an assistant coach so will manage our forward line as a small hard-running forward,” Davey said.

“I expect him to run through a midfield rotation as well.

“Jacob Mitchell I’d say will predominately play through the midfield or across half forward. He’s just an outstanding runner and a really good ball user.

“(Likewise) with Jake Truefeldt, that’s the role he’ll play.”

A Plus Labour Solutions Division 2 may be a step up from what Banyule has been accustomed to over the past three seasons, but the confidence levels across the board have been amplified following an enthusiastic pre-season campaign.

Davey selected youngster Artan Cabdi and grand final stars Devin McDonald and Michael Italia as the standouts on the track during the summer.

“Artan Cabdi – he really finished off 2017 and was outstanding through the finals. He’s really taken on our new fitness regime and I think he’s going to have a breakout year,” Davey said.

“Dev McDonald’s training has really gone through the roof as well and Mick Italia is another one. He missed most of last year and came good in the grand final and I’d say he’s looking to have a really big season.

“If training’s a gage of what’s to come this year then the young group that we’ve got have really stepped up to the plate. I’m really looking forward to seeing them grow again but in a higher division.”

Youth and culture, significant aspects of building a successful team, are two ingredients Davey knows the club has ahead of the 2018 season.

“One thing that we have concentrated on this year – and we got it right last year – was getting good character into the footy club.

“We’ve been in a really good position where we’ve been able to really go with what we wanted, doing some interviews and basic reference checking with our players.

“The guys that we have got into the footy club are just absolute ripping blokes.”

The Bears’ first test of the season comes when they host Watsonia in Round 1, where they will unfurl their premiership flag prior to the first bounce.

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