MYRTLEFORD and finals.
It’s been almost 10 years since those words have gone together but this year looks the Saints’ best chance of figuring in the business end of the season since they last did in 2006.
After going to hell and back since making the grand final that year, the Saints have reason to be optimistic again.
The longest finals drought in the Ovens and Murray could be about to end.
“We’d love to, obviously,” co-coach Brad Murray said when asked if finals were on the cards for his club.
“We feel like we set some solid foundations last year.
“We’re not going to set unrealistic expectations and goals but finals is something that is realistic for us and something we’re striving for.”
Murray certainly isn’t getting ahead of himself.
He knows there is 18 rounds’ worth of hard work before the Saints can live the finals dream.
But having kept off-season departures to a minimum, and added a couple of handy types, it’s hard not to feel positive about the year ahead.
“You’re always going to lose a couple but we’ve pretty well kept the group together and we’re pretty happy about that,” he said.
“We’ve got a couple in who we think will add a fair bit.
“We haven’t shut up shop recruiting wise, either.
“We’ve spoken to plenty of blokes but drawn a line in what they’re worth.”
One thing the Saints must do better is their start.
They didn’t get a win on the board last year until a third of the way through the season when they beat Corowa-Rutherglen in round 6.
The Saints’ other coach, Leigh Corcoran, is the first to admit you’re pushing the proverbial up hill from there.
“We’re really looking to rectify that,” Corcoran said.
“Our middle patch was good but we want that from the start.
“We wanted to sneak in last year so hopefully we can do that.
“We just want to keep winning respect back and be a side other teams know is playing to win.”
The likes of Matt Dussin, Riley O’Shea and Nathan Cossignani have been around for a while now and but often been regarded as talented young players who’ll come good in a couple of years.
They aren’t kids any more — they’re seasoned players.
“They’re really stepping up,” Murray said.
“They both played some awesome footy last year.
“Matty Dussin is our captain and shows everything you want in a leader.
“There is a good feeling around the club.”