CHUNKIER pre-season workloads for Dennington’s new-look squad are driving its desire to re-emerge as a finals powerhouse.
Second-year coach Jake Rhodes has beefed up his players’ pre-season schedules after identifying fitness as a key issue last season.
The former Western Bulldogs draftee hopes a stronger and speedier side can account for the loss of spearhead and former captain Chris Keilar and premiership mentor Darcy Lewis to Wickliffe-Lake Bolac.
“We felt as if we didn’t do a big enough pre-season last year. We then had a few injuries throughout the year and trying to get fit in the middle of the season is hard work,” Rhodes said.
“But the numbers at training have been fantastic since Christmas and they were good before that.
“I think our fitness base has really improved and I think our skills have too. We look a better side on the track but it’s hard to say without playing a match.”
While Lewis, Keilar and James Sclanders have departed, Rhodes has secured the signatures of Sam Curtis (North Warrnambool Eagles), Leigh Evans (Cobden) and Matt Hausler (Koroit).
“Matt is going to be good to play in our ruck division,” Rhodes said.
“It allows us to sort of unleash Justin Wallace forward at times which is a bonus.
“Sam is a really valuable player for us too – he’ll play in the forward line and also spend some time on the ball. He played in the reserves flags they won out at North.”
Dennington faces Kolora-Noorat in round one.