Hampden league clubs unveil new players in 2018 season-openers

BIG INCLUSION: Terang Mortlake recruit Joel Moloney is ready to play a key role in the Bloods' revival in 2018. He is among a host of top-line additions to the side. Picture: Morgan Hancock
BIG INCLUSION: Terang Mortlake recruit Joel Moloney is ready to play a key role in the Bloods' revival in 2018. He is among a host of top-line additions to the side. Picture: Morgan Hancock

DEBUTANTS is the theme of Hampden league’s opening round of the 2018 season.

South Warrnambool will unveil boom junior Ben Annett against Hamilton Kangaroos, Portland has named first-gamers Zane Barker, Tom Hernan and Connor Giddings and Warrnambool is backing Mitchell Burgess to adjust to the tempo of senior football.

Annett, Giddings and Burgess are teammates at TAC Cup club Greater Western Victoria Rebels.

Beaten grand finalist Port Fairy has picked highly-touted recruit Matt Pitt, who has crossed from the Geelong league, and Mininera league duo David West and Lachie Glare.

South Warrnambool coach Mat Buck said Annett was deserving of his chance to play in the Roosters’ first night game at Friendly Societies’ Park against Hamilton Kangaroos on Saturday night.

“It will be tricky conditions which is not ideal for your first game but he is a smooth mover with an athletic build,” he said.

Portland coach Luke Crane, who will return from a knee reconstruction, said he was excited to see the Tigers’ new additions.

“Zane’s going to be a mid-sized half-back-wing type. He did all the pre-season with the Rebels and he’s been doing a bit of surf lifesaving stuff and went away with a rowboat team,” he said.

“He’s got a bit of speed and he’s full of confidence which is what I like.

“Tom will play forward and a little bit through the ruck. He’s a kid we’ve wanted to play for a couple of years but he’s been hampered by injury. He’s a real competitor.

“Connor’s at least 196-197cm, quick, agile and clean below his knees.”

Portland will also unleash former VFL utility Tom Sharp against Warrnambool.

The Blues are rapt to expose bottom-age TAC Cup-listed prospect Burgess.

Warrnambool coach Matt O’Brien said Burgess was an exciting talent.

“When he’s trained with us, he’s been exceptional,” he said. “He’s highly skilled and exceptionally fast and a very good tackler.”

Warrnambool junior Ben Fleming will also make his senior debut for the club after a stint at North Warrnambool Eagles and Kurt Lenehan returns after a year off.

Blues key position duo Sam Cowling and Tim O’Keeffe will play after injury-interuppted 2017 seasons.

Terang Mortlake will include off-season additions Jordie McKenzie, Joel Moloney, Alex Moloney, Nick Couch, Mark Clissold and Stephen Staunton.

Returning players Paul Hinkley, Daniel Watson and Tim Horan were picked for Cobden, while Camperdown also added three returning players in Luke Mahony, Fraser Lucas and Nick Bateman.