Premiers prepare for flag defence

MDFL - Wickliffe/Lake Bolac has commenced its campaign to defend the Mininera and District Football League premiership title with solid numbers hitting the training track in recent weeks.

Magpies’ coach Nic Willox said after celebrating the club’s first senior flag in eight years, the group got stuck back into training in December. 

“We did a little bit in December to get a fitness base and get ready to go after the Christmas break,” he said.

“For most of the group it was their first premiership so it is all pretty new for them.

“A lot are still talking about it and I guess that will be the case for a while. For me and I am sure the rest of the boys it is a motivating factor to achieve that again and go back-to-back this year.”

Recording consecutive grand final victories is easier said than done in the Mininera, with Tatyoon the last club to achieve the feat in 2006-08.

Willox said the Magpies had worked hard during the off season to keep the 2013 senior team together, which went through the home and away season undefeated before claiming the premiership.

“We have kept the core group together, which was the main aim,” he said.

“Last year we had a fair few new players come to the club and so this year I would be looking for us to gel a lot more.

“Through the whole year we were getting to know each other and how different guys play, so this pre-season we should be more comfortable with that and be able to build on that knowledge.”

Wickliffe/Lake Bolac isn’t without its departures however, with premiership players James Keys and Will Archer both moving interstate.

Willox said while it was important to celebrate the spoils that came with topping the MDFL competition, players now need to focus on the season ahead.

“Getting the mind back on the job is the number one focus at the moment,” he said.

“With winning the flag some players can relax a little bit and become complacent and we definitely don’t want that. We have a couple of practice matches coming up in March against Skipton and Learmonth, so they will be good hitouts.”

Despite being the reigning premier Willox said he doesn’t feel any pressure heading into this season.

“Not really, I think last year we exceeded everyone’s expectations,” he said.

“Going from winning just four games the previous year to winning the premiership, we surprised a lot of people, maybe even ourselves, but I don’t think that adds any extra pressure.”

In a scary prospect for the 11 other teams in the Mininera, Willox said the Magpies still have room for improvement.

“Forward line efficiency and definitely our skills and ball use,” he said.

“Our fitness and defence are fine, but our skills can always lift, so that will be a big focus this pre-season.

“I am really looking forward to getting stuck into it all.”

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