NORTH Warrnambool Eagles is hoping a dynamic forward line can cause opposition headaches as it chases its maiden Hampden league premiership in 2022.
The Bushfield-based club has an wealth of talent to draw upon forward of the ball and is brimming with confidence despite two key departures.
The Eagles will be without veteran ruckman Jordan Dillon, who is leaving the region, and versatile midfielder Sam James who has left for Geelong Football League outfit South Barwon.
But the unexpected retention of goalkicker Dylan Parish, the inclusion of ex-West Coast ruck-forward Nathan Vardy and presence of smooth-mover Ben Kellett is cause for optimism.
We think match-up wise it'll be pretty difficult for the opposition.- Adam Dowie
"You've got Nathan Vardy, you've got Ben Mugavin, you've got Adam Wines, you've got Dion Johnstone, you've got Dylan Parish, you've got Jarryd Lewis," coach Adam Dowie said.
"Jackson Grundy looked really dangerous up there in the under 23 series. Obviously Jordan Dillon is gone but with Vards coming in and Ben Kellett finishing with the Rebels, we were probably thinking 'how are we going to juggle that?'.
"We think we've got a pretty good mix. We think match-up wise it'll be pretty difficult for the opposition."
Dowie said Parish was "as keen as he's been since 2016".
"He's been spending a lot of time in the gym," he said.
"We saw signs last year when he was sort of just half-fit, he's still got it. He's a really difficult match-up.
"He'll generally play forward and to have Dylan there, he's really popular among the group and he's just a great leader for us. He's really good instruction-wise as well.
"Dylan loves North Warrnambool and we love having him here. To have him still playing with us (is great) and we think he's an A plus. What I've seen, he's as good a player as I've seen in the Hampden league based on ability and what he can bring."
Dowie said James' departure was fully supported by the club. "Sam's been wanting to go for probably four years but family and his loyalty just kept luring him back," he said.
"I said 'come on mate, it's time to go' and it was. I said it's a win-win. If you stay and play with us, that's good and if you go we think that's really good as well.
"I think he's found a really good club in South Barwon. They sound like they're pretty country-orientated group too so we're pretty happy with it."
Dowie said recruit Tate Porter, who had arrived from Merrivale, was pushing for midfield time in James' absence.
"Tate's been really impressive. It took him a while to find his feet but the last couple of weeks we're going 'wow'," he said.
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