Koroit coach Chris McLaren backs Saints to cover Hampden league leading goalkicker Marcus Darmody in 2018

KOROIT is confident it can cover the loss of Hampden league leading goalkicker Marcus Darmody and push for a record fifth straight premiership in 2018.

Saints coach Chris McLaren says the powerhouse club’s versatility in attack will keep its opposition guessing.

He believes a fit Will Couch, who was limited to two senior appearances last season, grand final hero Tim McIntyre, midfield veterans Damian O’Connor and Ben Goodall, versatile talls Jarrod Korewha and Jeremy Hausler, injury-restricted small forward Levi Nagorcka and returning ruckman-forward Daniel Roache will combine to fill Darmody’s void in attack.

The Darmody name will remain a presence, with North Ballarat City recruit Marcus’ older brother Michael having shrugged off a back complaint.

“We will miss Marcus because he’s that real key point and we might have to change how we play slightly but we still think we have more than enough firepower to be a handful for teams, that’s for sure,” McLaren said.

“We know what Timmy McIntyre can do in the forward line.

“He can easily be a 50-goal player and I think the other guys who will go through there, (Damian) O’Connor and (Ben) Goodall swapping off the ball, can kick multiple goals.

“Daniel Roache, who has come back to Koroit, is someone we hope is big enough to play in the ruck but at six-foot-three or four. I have no doubt he could play forward.

“Jeremy Hausler pushes down there and (Jarrod) Korewha just keeps getting better and Levi Nagorcka is back and he’s a proven small forward.”

McLaren said Darmody, who played in two premierships in two seasons at Koroit, had shone in attack after moving from his customary role in defence.

“He’d admit in his first year he wasn’t able to get himself in quite as good a shape as he’d like (due to soft tissue injuries), so we were pretty determined to get a good year out of him,” he said.

“He got himself in much better shape and I know in the pre-season that Timmy McIntyre and a few other boys were taking carloads up to Ballarat every now and then on Saturday mornings doing training sessions with him.

“He was committed and so were the boys and he kicked 70-odd goals and won the goalkicking.”

McLaren said Roache, who has returned after a stint at Panmure and Hawkesdale-Macarthur, would complement Hausler.

“He’s a beautiful kick of the footy and really big, strong man,” he said.

“Mininera footy to Hampden league footy is a big jump but he hasn’t missed one session before Christmas.

“Jezza (Hausler) and Ethyn (Zimmer) in the past are similar ruckmen, whereas Roachey is your bigger, heavier-sized frame like your Levi Dares and like big Manny (Sandow) at South Warrnambool.

“He’s someone we think can balance our side up very nicely if we can get him up and going, which we think we can.”

Former Merrivale coach Todd McLean will bolster Koroit’s back six.

McLaren said the 2007 premiership Saint would be a welcome addition after a year off football.

“He is one of the most naturally gifted players I have played with to be honest,” he said.

Korewha is training with VFL club Werribee following North Ballarat’s demise, while Geelong-listed James Gow has made Bell Park his feeder club for 2018.