Following their successful 2023 WFNL campaigns, Ararat's senior footballers have returned for pre-season training.
At its opening session on November 21, the Rats had 34 players on the training track as they look to defend their senior and reserve flags.
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Ararat president David Hosking is pleased with the club's work in the off-season, with the majority of the senior side returning.
"Most of our players are very committed... There are only two or three that are not returning. Dan Mendes is retired, and Liam Arnott is going overseas," Hosking said.
Hosking admitted that the Rats' depth had taken a hit due to their success.
"We've been picked off around the fringes. Those boys that played a bit of senior footy last year  for us and couldn't make it into the grand final side [have been heavily recruited], Hosking said.
"Pretty much all of them have been picked off by district league [Mininera] clubs.
"That just undermines our depth."
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However, the Rats have done some recruiting of their own.
Sam Cronin returns to the club after a stint with Tatyoon, whilst Ben McKenzie joins the Rats from Watsonia in the Northern Football Netball League.
"Defensively, we're going to be very strong, which is good. We think our defence was pretty good anyway. I think it was the highest-ranked defence last year , and we've strengthened that up again," Hosking said.
As a result, Hosking believes that Rats will be a versatile line-up in 2024.
"Players are going to be able to play multiple positions, and we'll be able to rotate. Hopefully, we'll have good depth again. I think having good depth is a real key," Hosking said.
"It means as a coach, if somebody goes down or someone gets injured during a game, or someone's missing for the next week, it just means you've got options. And when you've got options in various positions, you're strong, and you're hard to beat."
At a broader club level, there is a focus on netball, particularly having the A Grade side return to finals.
We'd just like to improve our netball performance a bit. It's not terrible, but we think we can do better. And that means we're going to need to try and recruit some netballers. And that's difficult, it's not easy to do," Hosking said.
"A Grade has enjoyed a pretty proud history. But it's fair to say in recent times, I don't think they've played finals for a few years now," Hosking said.
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