COACH Ken Stevenson says those predicting Wodonga Raiders’ downfall this year had best think again.
Stevenson said the Raiders were absolutely aiming to keep their spot inside in the top five.
Many expect the Raiders to fall out of finals contention after losing most of their top-line talent over the summer.
Ben Davies, David Stretton, Scott Meyer, Luke Schilg, Aydan Brown, Eddie Prato and Patty Rose have all left.
But Stevenson, in his first season at the helm, said the Raiders weren’t about to lower expectations.
“We know it’s going to be tough but we are aiming for the five,” Stevenson said.
“Make no mistake.
“I expect our team to perform well.
“We know it’s going to be tough against the big two or three but I think we can surprise a few people.”
Stevenson said the public had largely underestimated the club’s younger players.
“I cannot fault the attitude of the guys at training,” he said.
“It has been perfect.
“We’ve got a good young group of players who have probably been underestimated.
“Guys like Danyl Woods, Zac Stuart and Brandyn Phillips have all shown they’re got the capability to become exceptional Ovens and Murray players.
“Ben Murphy won the league best and fairest in the thirds last year and our under-16s won the premiership.
“There’s definitely a good young group coming through.”
Stevenson said the club had a three-year plan and success wouldn’t happen overnight.
“We’re not stupid. We know it’s going to take time,” he said.
“We’re under no illusions.
“But I’m really enjoying it so far — we think we’ve got a lot of talent to work with.”