Hay’s the hunted across Golden Rivers

AS REIGNING premier in senior footy, Hay Lions have gone from hunter to hunted this Golden Rivers FNL season.

Jointly coached by Jason Aylett and Mick Cattanach, Hay will also aim to achieve back-to-back senior flags.

Last year’s grand final win against Ultima broke a 28-year drought.

The Lions have won four senior premierships, but never in consecutive years.

Hay will expect fierce challenges from the likes of Ultima and Moulamein when the season kicks off April 20.


The reigning premiers fought their way from third place at the end of the ’23 home-and-away series to taste grand final glory.

Brilliant charge by the Jason Aylett and Mick Cattanach-coached Lions began with a 15-goal win against Macorna in the first semi and then a 79-44 result against Moulamein in the preliminary final.

Will Clarke, Daniel Zambon, Dom Booth and Kenneth Jubb were best in a 29-point victory against Ultima on grand final day.

Other top performers for Hay last season included Dean Aylett, Hugh Crichton and Declan Watson.

Newcomers for the Lions are Chrisian Foster, Southern Power; Bentley Murphy, Wollongong Bulldogs; and Jacob Watson, Caloundra.

Kick off the season by unfurling its long-awaited premiership flag before the April 20 showdown with Murrabit.


Made its way to the ’23 finals where it was beaten, 142-52 in a first semi clash with Hay.

The Tigers will be determined to improve on last season’s win-loss tally of 5-12.

Paul Longstaff and Scott Wishart will coach the yellow and black.

Newcomers are the Huntly Hawks trio of Kurt Forder, Koby Gibson and Travis Mercadante, Huntly; along with Josh MacPherson, UTS Australian FC; and Laing Whinfield, Cowra Blues.

The Tigers best across last season included Josh Cameron, Shaun Haffenden, Nick Ingleton and Lachlan Ritchie.

Most recent of Macorna’s eight premiership victories was in 1970.

On home turf for the first-round match against Wandella.


Plenty at new faces at Moulamein as it strives to hit back from last season’s third placing.

The Swans finished  the ’23 home-and-away series with a 12-4 record and second place, but bowed out after finals losses to Ultima, 91-55 in the second semi, and a 35-point margin against Hay in the preliminary.

The Swans have not won a Golden Rivers premiership since 1988 and have appointed Tyntynder’s Shane Featherby as playing coach.

Newcomers to Moulamein include Trae Atkinson, Tyntynder; Bailey Caruso, William Martin and Andrew May, Deniliquin Rovers; Noah Elliott, Koondrook Barham; Fletcher Parr, St Mary’s; and Kaleb Richards, Balranald.

The Swans have also picked up Jack Featherby from Macorna; Keana Hall from Mathoura; and the Lake Boga foursome of Mark Drotsky, Luke and Xander Hartland, and Mitchell Ryan.

The second of Moulamein’s premierships in the Golden Rivers FNL was in 1988.

Starts a new season on the Kangaroos’ ground at Ultima.


The Blues will be determined to hit back after finishing sixth on a win-loss tally of 2-14 last season.

Big challenge for the Mick O’Toole-coached Murrabit as gun goalkicker Damian Cupido who kicked 52 goals in 16 matches is now coaching Maryborough Giants.

Newcomers for Murrabit include the Lake Boga quartet of Patrick Bryan, Beau Dooley, James and Ryan Harvey; Jordan Lampi and Pras Sayakhot from Violet Town.

The Blues have also gained Jack Shannahan and Jacob Wade from Mallee Eagles, and Dean Harrop from Nyah Nyah West United.

Dustin Blake and Nathan O’Toole were two of the Blues most consistent last season.

Has won 12 senior premierships. Most recent was in 2016.

Murrabit will play at Hay in round one.


A brilliant run by the Kangaroos who went from 2-14 in the ’22 season to achieve a 15-1 record in last year’s home and away series and reach the grand final.

Ultima could not stop the Lions run as Hay took out the grand final.

The agony of that defeat will spur the Kangaroos squad all season.

Newcomers to an Ultima squad coached by Kyle Symons are Tom Bell, Minyip-Murtoa; Brodie Bennett and Ryan Featherby, Tyntynder; and Baden Grey, East Geelong.

The Kangaroos have also gained the Lake Boga quartet of Lincoln Frost, Cameron Johnson, Matt Taverna and Ricky Wild.

Best in last year’s run to the grand final included Caillum Brady, Thomas Bull, Luke Doolan, Jake Foster, Tyler Makepeace, and Mitchell Seton-Stewart.

The Kangaroos won their 10th senior premiership in 2015.

Ultima is at home to face Moulamein the April 20 season opener.


The Bombers have appointed Adam Ward and Justin Robinson as co-coaches.

A premiership winner at Marong in ’22, Ward marked his first season with Wandella by winning last season’s club best and fairest award.

Ward’s foot skills through the middle and off half-back are a huge plus for the red and black.

Robinson returns to Wandella after two successful seasons at Irymple.

The Bombers also welcome back Troy Robinson, a four-time premiership player. Robinson has played 143 games with the Bombers and also stints with Bathurst Bushranger Outlaws, Fitzroy and Therry Penola.

A highlight for Wandella in ’23 was Russell Rich claiming the E.G. Hunt Medal as league fairest and best.

Newcomers for the Tombers include Nathan Boysen, Kerang; John Cooper, Irymple; Kaine O’Donnell, Murrabit; and Connor Wilson.

Holds a league record of 14 senior premierships of which most recent was in 2017.

A squad which finished last season in fifth place on a 4-12 record will play at Macorna in the opening round of the ’24 campaign.

Nat Dole’s predictions:

Top four: Ultima, Moulamein, Hay, Wandella.

Premier: Ultima.

Best and fairest: Caillum Brady, Ultima.

Goalkicking: Declan Watson, Hay.

Big improver: Wandella.