Wangaratta has a batch of youngsters, including two rugged brothers, in line to replace departing grand final forward Mitch Jensen.
The Footscray VFL premiership player is set to join Riddell District outfit, Romsey.
“Mitch has travelled (from Melbourne) for a season, but he has his work commitments,” first-year mentor Luke Morgan said.
“He enjoyed the footy and the standard of the Ovens and Murray.”
The clever forward kicked 35 goals in 19 games, including bags of five against North Albury and Wangaratta Rovers.
He was a straight swap for Pies’ premiership player Ben Speight, who spent last season at Bacchus Marsh.
Speight is now back at the Pies and while it’s an obvious substitution, the club has a stack of rising contenders.
“There’s some really good 19, 20, 21-year-old kids who are pushing through and working for positions across the roles that Mitch played last year,” Morgan said.
“The two Saunders boys, Luke and Daniel, have had really strong pre-seasons.”
There’s some really good 19, 20, 21-year-old kids ... (including) the two Saunders boys.Luke Morgan
Daniel played two senior games last year and Luke eight, including three finals.
However, Luke and Ryan Holt were dropped from the grand final team in favour of gritty tagger Will Reilly and the unpredictable Frazer Dent.
The Saunders siblings are tough as nails who thrive on the physical front.
But it will be a battle to claim a spot in the forward line given the presence of premiership players Speight, Michael Newton, Josh Porter, Joe Richards, Daine Porter and Jessie Smith, while James McClounan is back after booting 94 goals for Milawa in the neighbouring Ovens and King league.
Wangaratta hasn’t started a season as favourites since racking up successive premierships in 2007-08, but it will unseat Albury following the return of Speight and Porter.
Porter was the best centre half-forward in 2017, prior to an overseas study trip and season at Werribee.
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