By Russell Bennett
Garfield promises to be one of the biggest improvers of the West Gippsland Football Netball Competition next season with a targeted recruiting approach netting seven players new to the Beswick Street fold.
The Stars – under new senior coach Hayden Stanton – have netted Corie Intveen from Narre Warren; Jayden Goumas, Hayden McLardy, Tim Vrevc, Nick Macente, and Brent Colling from Berwick; and Tanner Stanton – Hayden’s son – from Fairpark and formerly of Narre Warren.
Each of them are hell-bent on proving themselves at senior level in such a tightknit and competitive league as the WGFNC, and they’re all in their mid-20s or younger.
It’s a recruiting coup that isn’t finished yet either, with another pair of strong-bodied midfielders still a chance to join them in Stars colours.
A particularly young and undersized Stars outfit finished eighth on the ladder last season with five wins and 13 losses, and next year’s group could take significant strides forward with the aim of playing finals footy.
“We’re essentially replacing a midfield, having lost the two Payne boys (Tyson and Darcy) and Jarryd Drew (all interstate),” Stanton explained to the Gazette.
“All of the guys we’ve brought in are great mates, socially, even though they’re from a couple of different clubs.
“I wanted to target guys who knew each other and who were all experienced guys playing in the SEFNL.
“Five of them have come from Berwick and those guys will be terrific players for us. They’re fit, they’re seasoned, and they’ve played in finals basically for the past five years but just through lack of opportunity haven’t been able to hold down a senior spot.”
Macente is a quality ball-user and natural vocal leader who is sure to bolster the Stars’ back half, while McLardy and Goumas (who played in Berwick’s senior premiership win in 2015) will have a real impact as midfielders – as will Vrevc in a defensive run-with role.
Intveen is set to shine in a ruck-forward role while Brent Colling will add some much needed pressure inside forward 50 and Stanton could act as a real swingman – either forward or back.
“It’s still a bit of the unknown because it’s only the second year of the competition so you just don’t know where other clubs will go and what they’ll do to improve, but one thing’s for sure we’ll be awfully fit and we’ll be well-structured and we’ll play the game the way it needs to be played,” Stanton said.
“Fundamentally we just want to play a good, consistent brand of football week in, week out and we want to be identified for the way we go about it.”