NORTH Warrnambool Eagles coach Adam Dowie is confident former AFL duo Michael Barlow and Dion Johnstone will play for the Hampden league club in 2019.
Former Fremantle and Gold Coast midfielder Barlow and ex-Melbourne draftee Johnstone, who have both signed with VFL clubs, have nominated the Eagles as their feeder team.
“I think the best-case scenario would be two or three games,” Dowie said of the pair’s availability.
“We have had a look at the draw and when the VFL doesn’t play and when we do.”
Dowie said Barlow and Johnstone’s influence would stem beyond any onfield role they played.
“We don’t think they will play a significant contribution during the season but to have access to two guys who have been in the AFL system and have them around at different stages will be really good for the group,” he said.
Barlow played 141 AFL games for the Dockers and Suns and has signed with Werribee as an assistant coach for the upcoming season.
Johnstone spent two years on Melbourne’s list and will run out for Port Melbourne in 2019.
Barlow’s older brother Herb is a former North Warrnambool Eagles player, while Johnstone was drafted via the club in 2016.
“It’s exciting. It tops off a really productive off-season for North Warrnambool but at the end of the day how we go this year depends on the players we had last year,” Dowie said.
The six-time Hampden league premiership coach – he won two at Terang Mortlake, one at Warrnambool and three at Koroit – said he was settling in well at his new club.
“The players are receptive to new ideas,” he said.
Barlow and Johnstone join former Geelong and Carlton utility Billie Smedts as players with AFL links to commit to North Warrnambool Eagles for the upcoming season, which starts on April 6.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.