WANGARATTA recruit Sean Johns says it’s up to the club’s younger players, including himself, to stand up if the Magpies want to achieve a top-three finish this year.
Johns, who joined Wangaratta via Mulwala over the summer, said the chance to test himself at a higher standard was the major reason behind his switch back to the Ovens and Murray after a year in the Murray league.
He said the Pies, who finished a disappointing seventh last year, were aiming to return to finals with a bang and had their eye on the double chance.
But Johns admitted Wangaratta’s young brigade — led by himself and Mick Bordignon — had to stand up to make that aim a reality.
“We’re definitely aiming to be in that top-three bracket,” Johns said.
“The club has recruited some handy young guys to go with the ones already there and if us young guys can hold our spot then it will definitely help the senior players.
“A lot us are mates from school which I think will help us.”
The former Yarrawonga youngster said family links, plus greater opportunities, were the reasons he opted to join the Pies and not return to the Pigeon coop.
“I always planned to play at Wang at some stage, I’m born and bred there and all my uncles played there.
“It’s been a good decision.
“Hopefully I’ll get a bit more exposure and build a name for myself.”
Johns said he always planned to play at a higher level after spending last season with the Murray league Lions.
“I was always going to play there for a year.
“I wanted to play in a flag which unfortunately we didn’t do.
“I want to maybe play SANFL or VFL and challenging myself at a higher standard is probably the best way to get there.”
The former Murray Bushrangers’ skipper, who is at university in Bendigo, said he was looking forward to playing under former midfield coach Mark Knobel.
“It’s been a pretty professional preseason and everyone is really excited about the year ahead,” Johns said.
“There’s a good culture at Wang — which there was at Yarra, too.
“Everyone’s good mates and gets on well.”
The Pies went through their paces last night and play their first practice match against Benalla in a fortnight.