Merrivale is confident the acquisition of two-time Hampden league premiership defender Todd McLean will see the Tigers play finals.
McLean, a former coach and premiership player at Merrivale, will return the club for the 2019 Warrnambool and District league season.
Tigers coach Jason Rowan said he hoped signing the key defender would help the club be a finals contender.
"We don't want to put all of the pressure on Todd, but to be able to pick up a player of his caliber who played in Koroit's premiership side last year is just going to be a massive boost and I dare say will definitely boost where we finish next year,” he said.
"We blooded a lot of kids last season but we didn't make finals, so that is big on the list for next season to get Merrivale back up into finals. I think it was the first year in 10 years that we have missed out.
"But we felt we ticked a lot of boxes and got a lot of games into young kids.
"If we can recruit a couple more players which we have in the pipeline to come in with Hampden league experience I think it is onwards and upwards next year.”
Rowan, who will lead Merrivale for a third season, said McLean was the perfect fit for the type of player the Tigers needed.
"At the end of last season we sort of went through key position players that we needed to recruit and obviously we needed a centre half-back and back man on our list," he said.
"So to be able to land Todd obviously with his background and playing in two Hampden league premierships at Koroit is a massive boost for the club and a massive boost for the playing group.
“He will be down in the back six whether he is playing on key position forwards or whether he is playing another role for us he will spend a majority of his time in the back six.”
McLean is also set to be an unofficial assistant coach to Rowan next season at this stage, also helping with fellow assistant Matthew Brown.
Rowan said the premiership player’s experience and knowledge would be invaluable to the young Tigers.
"He has coached at Merrivale, he is a great leader on the ground so it is going to be a massive help to myself and ‘Browny’ to have him giving that direction on the ground and another set of eyes to help us out,” he said.
"We haven't titled it as an assistant coach but we had a good chat with Todd and he will pretty much be an assistant to help with selection.
"And he will bring some Hampden league experience with training and he will have a pretty big say in which way we go next year."