Albury first-year coach Peter German says Wangaratta’s gun forward line won’t dictate his off-season recruiting.
The Pies will most likely field the league’s most potent forward line-up after the recent return of 2017 premiership stars Josh Porter and Ben Speight.
Wangaratta already boasted Doug Strang medallist Michael Newton, meaning SANFL player Tom Whittlesea will be the only missing ingredient from the forward line the smaller Tigers couldn’t handle in that grand final upset.
“At the moment, we probably won’t look at other sides,” German said.
“Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of being able to go and say, ‘yep, we want that player, let’s go get him’, there’s a lot of machinations that come with trying to recruit players obviously with the (player) points (system), the salary cap and whether players want to travel or relocate.”
Wangaratta fell short in this year’s decider, with Albury edging home in an eight-point thriller.
The Pies’ new coach Luke Morgan indicated he wanted more support for his spearhead Newton, who was restricted to three goals by Michael Thompson in the decider.
Thompson has since joined Tallangatta league outfit Kiewa Sandy Creek, robbing the Tigers of one of their biggest defenders.
“You can drop your ruckman back (to combat the lack of defensive height), you can drop someone behind the ball and a lot of it’s going to start from the midfield anyway,” German said.
“There’s ways you’ve got to be able to think on your feet and that’s the art of coaching.”
German coached at four AFL clubs, as well as extended stints in the VFL, so he’s had first-hand experience of Wangaratta’s star trio.
“I know Ben, I’ve coached against Porter, I’ve actually coached ‘Juice’ Newton at Casey,” he said.
“Of course it does help (when you then coach against them), but it falls on the day if players can’t get what you want and they’re in form, it doesn’t matter what you do.”
If a betting market was framed today, Wangaratta’s forward line would guarantee favouritism.
Next season’s draw is yet to be released, with scheduling around Easter, Anzac Day and where Lavington’s home matches will be played to be worked through.
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