Greensborough senior men’s captain Jack Johnston is hopeful that the injection of youth into the side will see the Boro play a more consistent brand of football as they approach of their opening game of the 2023 Melbourne Greyhounds Division 1 season next week.
Despite an up and down 2022 campaign, the Boro finished in fifth spot before bowing out in the elimination final to West Preston-Lakeside.
A new look for the club is now in sight, after the likes of Billy Bedford, Tom Bell, Josh Caddy and Nick Riddle all departed Greensborough War Memorial Park in the off-season.
Johnston is excited about the prospect of the playing group being spearheaded by its growing young core.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how well we gel together and personally I just want to play good consistent footy at a high standard,” he said.
“There’s a lot of opportunity this year for a lot of the younger guys coming through, a lot of those boys have been training well and are seeing an opportunity to play senior footy this year.”
The club will boast two under-19’s sides in 2023, the first time the club has fielded two teams since 2019, further highlighting the club’s imperativeness to build around its younger players.
Johnston explained how senior coach Saade Ghazi’s gameplan would be tweaked in the hopes of maintain the side’s identity of being a fast-moving football team, which that will only be reinforced by a new group of young legs.
“We want to play less stressed, and I think that’s going to be one of our strengths,” he said.
“We got a gameplan in the style we want to run with and we’re starting to drill that into us for a lot of the pre-season, so everyone’s really clear on how they want to play and how they want to move the footy.”
This will be Johnston’s first year in senior football where he hasn’t had eight-time Division 1 men’s Team of the Year full back Nick Riddle after the former Collingwood VFL captain transferred to Old Ivanhoe in the off-season.
While Johnston admitted that the talented defender is a difficult player to replace, he has placed his faith in rising star Angus Seivers after the 19-year-old had a breakout 2022 season where he was named in the Boro’s best in eight of 17 matches.
“He came top five in the best and fairest and that was a result of how well he’s played. He’s the first one that comes to mind to play that key defender role,” he said.
Despite some experienced omissions from last year’s side, Greensborough have still picked up some excellent recruits for the upcoming campaign, such as Port Melbourne VFL listed and former Brisbane VFL listed player Charlie Bowes, former South Morang, Eltham and Hurstbridge ruck Jamie Smith and 2022 Bundoora reserves grand final best on ground medallist Nathan Howard.
But no inclusion has garnered more interest than former Carlton and St Kilda player Jack Newnes who arrives at the club after over 200 games at AFL level.
Johnston was pumped to have Newnes on board with the Boro in 2023, saying he hopes the midfielder can serve as an example of excellence and class for the young playing group.
“He’s played 200 games of AFL footy, so he comes in and he oozes class, he’s a natural leader as well and knows what he’s talking about,” he said.
“Everyone looks up to him, he’s a good role model for a lot of the younger guys we got coming through, when he speaks everyone listened because he’s played 200 games of AFL footy.
“We’re stoked to him, obviously he’s a big name but he’s a really good person as well, he’s bought in really well, fits in really well and we’re just keen to see how he goes.”
The Boro skipper added that despite a heap of off-season changes, the goal will remain the same for a club who have been in reach of winning their first premiership since 2014 for the last few years now.
“I think if you go into the season and you’re not aiming to play finals footy then you’re playing for the wrong reasons, we’re no different we want to play finals,” he said.
“We’re a proud footy club and we hold ourselves to a high standard, we definitely want to play finals footy.”
Greensborough open the season with a highly anticipated Good Friday battle against Macleod at De Winton Park.