Heidelberg West coach Gary Cutler is confident his team will be in contention at the pointy end of the season, ahead of the 2018 Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 campaign.
An influx of new recruits – including eventual competition best and fairest Jarryd Coulson, club best and fairest Masaki Miki and co-captain Justin Bentley – helped the Hawks to their most successful season in over a decade in 2017.
They had looked destined to play finals before being struck by a massive amount of injuries in the final month – eventually losing their final four games to end the year in sixth place, with a 7-9 record.
Cutler is confident his side can bounce back from the disappointing finish to 2017 and push further up the ladder this year.
“With the list we have built in the last two seasons, we are talking anything less than a top-four finish would be pretty disappointing,” Cutler told NFNL.org.au.
“I know that’s pretty funny coming out of the year we just had, but we set our goals pretty high and we think we are capable of achieving those if we can keep a fit and healthy list.”
Gary Cutler says adding more experienced players to the club’s list was a priority heading into the pre-season.
The addition of new talent has added greater depth, which was missing at the back end of last season when close to a dozen players were sidelined with injury – ultimately ruining the Hawks’ chance of a charge towards the finals.
“We felt like we needed to bring in some experience into the club and we feel like we have pretty much achieved that,” he said.
“They also need to get to know each other. We had so many new guys last year and we feel like they all need to learn each others’ style and game plans to be able to gel well as a playing group.”
Former club captain and 2015 Division 3 Coaches Player of the Year, Dan Bailey, is among the new additions, following a two-year stint at Glenroy.
“Very happy to have Dan Bailey back at the club,” Cutler said.
“We have also picked up Sean Kelly, who will be a playing assistant, who has had experience playing in Division 1 at Northcote Park, as well as at North Heidelberg.
“Michael Celestin and Owen Donaghey-Arrowsmith who will also don the brown and gold in season 2018.
“We’ve also have players like Reinke come back to the club, who’s a star, and picked up a lot of new faces such as Stuart Guthrie and Mike Meade, who might come into contention in Round 1.”
Having been sidelined by injury for more than a year before joining the Hawks, Cutler highlighted the importance of competition best and fairest winner Jarryd Coulson to the club.
“You can’t lose players like Jarryd Coulson. (He) hadn’t played for 18 months, hadn’t done a pre-season, still missed three or four games but won the competition medal, so that tells us the player he is capable of being,” he said.
Reigning club best and fairest Masaki Miki is battling through an injury interrupted pre-season, but Cutler is adamant he will be right to go early in the season.
“Miki’s got a little bit of an injury so he’s had an interrupted pre-season, but he’ll be fine,” he said.
“We will do whatever we have to do to look after him to make sure he’s ready to go for when he’s ready.”
Heidelberg West’s first game of the season is less than two months away, with the Hawks set to travel to Whatmough Park to take on St Mary’s in Round 1.