BY NATHAN DOLE
SENIOR coaching changes across the Central Murray and North Central leagues have hit double figures leading into the 2024 footy season.
Some of the coups include Nullawil luring Strathfieldsaye Storm’s triple premiership coach Darryl Wilson; and Wycheproof-Narraport gaining Wayne Mitrovic.
Cohuna Kangas will have a first-time coach, but six-time premiership winner in Jack Geary from Golden Square.
There’s no change at the top for premiership winners in Sea Lake Nandaly, led by Bryce Delmenico and Billy McInnes, or at Kerang, Troy Coates.
Some big-name recruits are headed to play in the Goldacres North Central FNL, or the 3Sh-backed Central Murray competition.
Birchip-Watchem Bulls charge to be top of the North Central again was kicked along by the signing of gun ruckman Hamish Hosking from Sandhurst.
The Trevor Ryan-coached Bulls have a midfield that includes Nicholas Rippon who was joint winner of last season’s Feeny Medal as league fairest and best with Sea Lake Nandaly star Trent Donnan.
A formidable Sea Lake Nandaly team of ’23 included Kane, Trent and Wade Donnan; Ryan O’Sullivan, Tyson McKenzie and John Summerhayes.
Recruited to SLN after an AFL career with Adelaide and Geelong, Josh Jenkins played eight games and kicked 49 goals for the Tigers.
At Donald, Josh Potter takes charge after a three-year stint by Rohan Brown which included being runner-up in ’22.
Jesse Wallin will be assistant coach of the Royal Blues.
Key position player Todd Stevenson brings his experience from Perth, Bell Park and Natimuk to a Donald line-up that includes Feeny medallist Ross Young, Ryley Barrack, Sam Dunstan, Hayden and Logan Geddes.
It’s been a brilliant career for Darryl Wilson who takes on a new challenge at Nullawil.
The Maroons marked their first year in the North Central FL by being runner-up to the unbeaten Sea Lake Nandaly.
Nullawil have certainly made a splash in their recruitment, signing Swan Hill Football Club champion Matthew Wade for the 2024 season.
The star midfielder’s has an impressive resume which includes being a five-time best and fairest at the Swans, a three-time CMFNL Medalist, and coach of the Swans for six seasons.
The Maroons also welcome back Rylee Smith, a premiership winner at Kerang in ’22 and ’23 and the Blues’ team champion last season.
Other key recruits for Nullawil include Hunter Lawrence from Strathfieldsaye Storm, and Nick Keogh from Kangaroo Flat.
There is plenty of coaching experience that Wayne Mitrovic brings on his return to Wycheproof Narraport.
Among the many highs of his playing career was a premiership with the Demons in 2010.
Mitrovic’s most recent coaching stint was with Maiden Gully YCW Eagles.
After a year away the desire to coach has returned.
Mitrovic takes charge of a new-look squad that includes brilliant midfielder Steve Kennedy who previously played for Altona and Darley.
The Demons’ recruits include Maysen Murgov from Avondale Heights, and Jack Marlais from Altona.
Morgan Fawcett and George Turner also return to the den.
A triple premiership winner at North Bendigo, Tom Metherell steps up to senior coaching at Wedderburn.
Metherell has crossed to the Redbacks after a two-year playing stint with Cohuna Kangas.
Newcomers to Wedderburn include Rich Zelencich, a key position player from Carisbrook.
The Redbacks also welcome the Zelencich twins, Mike and Tony who played at Carisbrook last season.
Long-time players in Adam Postle, approaching the 300-game milestone, and Danny Benaim will stay in the red and black.
After finishing last season in seventh place on a record of 4-11 and a draw, Boort will be determined to improve.
Dale Cameron will again coach the Magpies.
Key players for Boort in ’23 included Jarrod Fitzpatrick, Alex Davis, Matthew Hodoras and Natnael McLaren.
Charlton’s bid to climb the ladder will be led by new coach Mitch Collins from Kangaroo Flat.
A classy midfielder, Collins played more than 100 senior games with the Kangaroos and also had stints with Mount Pleasant, Cohuna Kangas and Maiden Gully YCW.
Best for the Navies and winner of the Barry Cossar medal as ’23 fairest and best was Jesse Taylor who joined the club from Lorne.
At St Arnaud, Scott Driscoll has made the move from Jeparit Rainbow to be playing coach.
Torin Petrie will be playing assistant coach.
Newcomers for the Saints include midfielder Bailey Nicholas from Cove and previously Port Adelaide Magpies.
St Arnaud has also gained ruckman Zac Phillips from Woodville West Torrens, and signed Angus Strawhorn and Josh Willmott from Kyneton.
In the Central Murray league it will be Kerang chasing a hat-trick of premierships.
A legend of the Blues, Troy Coates has retired as player but stays on as coach.
It will be a new-look for the Blues as Michael Dalrymple, Hayden Hall, Adam Hunter, and Michael Runciman have joined Newstead.
For the Jydon Neagle-coached Balranald a grand final appearance capped a remarkable turnaround of two years ago.
Among the newcomers for the Roos in ’24 will be Mason Fitzgerald from South Mildura.
The family’s link to Balranald stretches back to 2009 when Mason’s dad, Brock was captain of the premiership team.
The attack for next season will include Lachie Lellman from Renmark.
Re-signings include Jaxon and Matt Neagle, Ian Fuller, Rory Fitzgerald, Ryan Middlebrook, and captain Harrison Soraggi.
After a four-year stint coaching Waverley Blues, Tom Langford returns to Woorinen.
The Tigers will welcome another recruit from Waverley in forward Matt Perry.
Lake Boga has turned to Dean Helmers as senior coach.
The past two seasons Helmers was in charge at Tooleybuc Manangatang.
Brodie Tonkin returns to the Magpies, while Will Doquille and Lochlan Wooding are newcomers.
Lincoln Frost, Cameron Johnson, Matt Taverna and Ricky Wild have signed with Ultima.
After a one-off appearance with the club in ’23, gun forward Brandyn Grenfell has signed on as a full-time player with Nyah Nyah West United.
Grenfell joins the Demons after an incredible two-year stint at Marong where he kicked 264 goals as the Panthers marked back-to-back premierships in the Loddon Valley FNL.
The Demons also welcome back Jackson Hopkins from Port Douglas Crocs.
Cohuna Kangas gain a brilliant player in Jack Geary after he led Golden Square to victory in last September’s grand final against Sandhurst.
Also bound for Cohuna are Jayden Cordy from Huntly, and Ryan Semmel whose 300-plus game career includes a stint with Huntly where he was a triple Cheatley medallist as fairest and best in the Heathcote DFNL.
Talented defender Will Lee returns to the Kangas, along with Sam Leitch, Jacob Mitchell and Jackson Williams.
They join a squad that includes Brenton Conforti, Jarrod Findlay, Dylan Friedberger, Joel Helman and Sam McGlone.
Talented forward Rhys Free has headed to Noosa Tigers, and ’23 coach Tyson Findlay returns to North Bendigo.
At Swan Hill the classy Michael Herlihy is new coach.
A star in his time with South Bendigo, Herlihy takes charge of a Swans squad which was coached by Callan Beasy last season.
Among the stars in the Swans’ line-up is on-baller Matthew Wade, a three-time winner of the league fairest and best award.
Ben Parkes returns after a stint with Golden Square, Cooper Angus is back from Monash Blues.
A newcomer is Nyawi Moore from Heywood.
The skilful Jose Miliado takes on a playing assistant coach role.
Tyntynder has appointed Jack O’Rourke as senior coach.
Assistant will be Marcus Wattie who returns to the Bulldogs after a stint with Shepparton United.
Re-signings at Tyntynder include Elliott Broad, Isaiah Bull, Angus and Patrick Crowe, and Elia Ware.
It’s a new-look coaching team of Harry Allen and Brent Macleod.
A forward with Thomson, Daniel Freeman makes his way to the Lalbert-based Eagles nest.
Recruits for Tooleybuc Manangatang include midfielder Elliot Chalmers who is playing in the Northern Territory with Pint.
The Saints also regain Jackson Morris and Zach Nicholls.
Key players in 2023 included club champion Ethan Goldfinch in midfield, Blake Grant, defender Jaicob Kenny, and Josh Williams in attack.
Despite its winless run, Koondrook Barham was able to gain several recruits.
Those to have joined the Will Callow-coached River Raiders include Nathan Hura, a premiership ruckman with Irymple who also played at Bambil.
Also new for the KB team are Jason Hura, Irymple and Bambil; and Jordan McKinnon, a half-forward/wingman and Cambell Davison from Wentworth.
The River Raiders also regain last season’s fairest and best in Mitch Christensen and will also have Colin McVeigh and Scott Wood to play key roles in the ’24 campaign.