BY NATHAN DOLE
A UNIQUE clash will be played in Saturday’s start to the Goldacres North Central Football Netball League’s senior footy season.
Two reigning premiers will clash on Birchip Watchem’s turf at George Cartwright Oval in Birchip from 2.30pm.
The North Central’s champions of 2022, Birchip Watchem will tackle Nullawil, the Golden Rivers premier of ’22 which has made the move to the NCFL.
There are several recruits for the Trevor Ryan-coached Birchip Watchem.
Newcomers to the Bulls squad include Daniel and Thomas Batarilo, Jos Builder, Ben Christodoulou, Bodie Colbert, Ben Edwards, Matthew Finster, Thomas Jones, Kody Leith, and Nicholas Rippon.
Ruckman Lochlan Sirett, key forward Nathan Gordon, Daniel Castellano, Lachlan Ryan and key defender Dale Hinkley are all in the squad.
The Brett Barker-coached Nullawil will be keen to perform well.
Players to watch for the Maroons include on-baller Sam Stephens who was on Werribee’s list in the VFL; Adam and Mark Thomson from Mildura; Lucas and Zachary Caccaviello, Nick Grigg, Will Hogan, Dean Smith, and Jarrod Taylor.
In last year’s grand final, Mitch Farmer and Andrew Oberdorfer kicked four and three goals as Nullawil beat Moulamin by 68 points.
They will play key roles, as will Andrew Casey, Patrick Kelly, Dean Putt and Matt Quigley.
A talented squad includes Grant Ford who previously played at Heathcote, Newbridge, Kangaroo Flat, Bendigo Bombers, and Bendigo Pioneers.
Last season’s runner-up, Donald is at home against Wycheproof-Narraport.
Recruits for the Rohan Brown-coached Royals include Kieran Bell, Stephen Dinnell, James Heslop, Chris Lynch, Jamie Papalia, and Jesse Wallin.
Fifth in 2022, Wycheproof Narraport has gained some handy recruits.
Newcomers to the Boe Bish-coached Demons include talented defender Josh Walsh from Bears Lagoon-Serpentine as assistant coach.
The Demons have also welcomed Aaron Bateson from Eaglehawk, Chris Cox and Kristian McNicol.
Adal Zuk has returned to the den, while Seth Hoskin and Cody Wright have joined the club from Inglewood.
Boort takes on Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers at Boort Park.
The Magpies and Tigers have new coaches.
Dale Cameron takes charge at Boort which has recruited Western Bulldogs premiership player Shane Biggs.
Drafted by Sydney Swans in 2012 after starring for Bendigo Gold in the VFL, Biggs played six matches for the Swans across 2013-14, and 57 matches for the Bulldogs between 2015 and ’18.
Newcomers at Boort Park include midfielder Jarrod Fitzpatrick from Golden Square; Brayden Aitken and Natnael McLaren from Maiden Gully YCW Eagles.
Also new are Ben Brinsmead, Rylan Chislett, Rhys Crapper, Ryan McGhie, Fraser Millar, Tim Rhook, Matthew Rice, Cameron Ross, and Jesse Smith.
A new-look coaching duo of Bryce Delmenico and Billy McInnes will have Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers fired up after last season’s preliminary final defeat.
The Tigers have recruited from Adelaide and Geelong key forward Josh Jenkins.
In a 10-year career in the AFL, Jenkins played 147 matches for the Crows and two games for the Cats.
Another recruit for SLN is Jordan Bath.
A formidable line-up in the yellow and black includes Ryan O’Sullivan, Trent and Wade Donnan, Brodie Adcock, Matt Elliott and John Summerhayes.
A huge plus for Wedderburn is the return of coach Sam Barnes to play after an eye injury kept him on the sidelines.
Despite many injuries last year, Wedderburn worked hard to achieve a win-loss record of 10-6 before bowing out in the first semi.
Wedderburn starts this season at home at Donaldson Park against Charlton.
The Redbacks’ recruits include Luke Brown, Hamish Lockhart and Bartholomew Walsh.
A major departure is Hamish Winter-Irving to Scotch OC in the Adelaide Football League.
After a winless season, Charlton has bolstered its line-up with plenty of experience.
A key recruit for the Navies who will again be coached by Andy Nisbet is Travis Baird from Mount Pleasant.
A brilliant career for Baird included stints in the AFL with Brisbane Lions and Western Bulldogs, at Golden Square in the Bendigo FNL, and his hometown of Donald.
The Navies have also gained skilful midfielder Jaydon Cowling from Huntly. He previously played for Golden Square.
Other newcomers at Charlton include Jed Carey, Harrison Taylor, Rhyen and Sam Woods.
The Navies also have the likes of captain Rhys Thompson, Daniel Thiesz, Jackson Zagame, Ricky Welch and Anthony Judd capable of winning many contests.
After a first-round bye, St Arnaud makes the trek for Nullawil for the April 22 showdown.
St Arnaud has a new coach in Anthony Bourke, aka A.J., whose previous stints include Avoca and Beaufort.