The Rats fell one win short of a grand final berth in 2018. They upset the apple cart, coming of age very quickly as the season unfolded. This year, the Rats have their sights set on repeating those efforts and going even further.
Q&A with coach Shane Fisher
Q: What are the internal expectations for this year?
A: The word I have used all preseason is duplication. As a club and in particular as a senior side we need to achieve at least what we did last year, the challenge now is moving forward from that.
Q: How about dealing with loftier expectations from those in the league?
A: I think there we are targeted differently now. In recent years teams might have come to Ararat thinking they'd take an easy four points, but we want to keep developing to change those mindsets of other clubs which I think we did a bit last year.
Q: Who has impressed you during the pre-season?
A: I think a couple of our traditionalists in Jack Ganley and Tom Mills have once again led the way. With a bit more depth in our side guys like that will have a bit more freedom which is pretty exciting.
Q: What style of footy do you want to play this year?
A: I'd like to think we are still a running brigade. Hopefully we can pick up our use of the ball and be able to pick teams apart with a combination of those things.
Q: Thoughts on Warracknabeal in round one?
A: Round one is always a nervous one for a coach. Warracknabeal was a team that in no uncertain terms had our measure by the end of last year. They have a really talented list so I think it will be an interesting contest to matchup against them in the first game of the year.
WHO'S IN AND WHO'S OUT - ARARAT RATS
INS: Aaron Pianta, Callum Mendes, Todd Smith, Dylan Shelley
OUTS: Jake Robinson
LAST YEAR'S EFFORTS
Third (11 wins, 5 losses, 129.2 per cent, preliminary final appearance)
WHAT TO EXPECT
There are many in the Wimmera Football League fraternity that have the Rats taking their efforts from 2018 and going even further. With a very solid spine, a talented midfield brigade that includes Toohey Medallist Daniel Mendes and some strong recruits, the Rats could be a dark horse to claim a grand final berth and maybe even bring a flag back to Ararat for the first time in nearly two decades.
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