Wodonga Saints will enter a new era this year under coach Zack Pleming who replaces co-coaches Gerard Midson and Jesse Wellington at the helm. The Saints improved in 2019 to record two wins and a draw after going winless the previous year. Pleming caught-up with The Border Mail and is hopeful of making further inroads up the ladder this season.
BRENT GODDE: How have you approached the pre-season?
ZACK PLEMING: Obviously after having 12 months off playing we have been mindful of not overloading the players and getting soft tissue injuries. We have focussed more on ball work to help build the fitness so we didn't have blokes breaking down before Christmas.
BG: Have you been able to keep your list intact?
ZP: We have been able to retain 90 per cent of the list which I can't complain about. You have to be realistic and I don't think there would be too many clubs that kept all of their list together.
BG: What have the numbers at training been like?
ZP: We have been averaging about 25 players a session pre-Christmas which is probably what you expect with a lot of players busy in the lead-up trying to finish jobs at work before the break.
BG: No doubt you feel the club can improve this season. Where do you think most of the improvement will come from?
ZP: We are going to put a lot of faith in the natural improvement of players who are in that 20-25 age bracket. We are hoping that they can take that next step and a lot of our improvement will hinge on that.
BG: Have you got any player in particular that you think is primed for a breakout season?
ZP: I think Bailey St John has been a standout over the pre-season and can have a significant impact for us.
BG: What do you think is a realistic goal this season as far as wins and losses?
ZP: Similar to most clubs, you always aim to play finals. But from where we are coming from, if we can win at least five matches and improve would be a more realistic goal.
IN OTHER NEWS
BG: Who do you feel is the side to beat?
ZP: Kiewa-Sandy Creek and Tallangatta look to be the standouts. Both clubs boast an enviable record of attracting high-profile recruits from the Ovens and Murray and have been able to bolster their lists since 2019. They look to be the benchmark with Barnawartha also a genuine flag contender.
BG: Are you confident the season will go ahead?
ZP: I don't think it's a certainty but I'm sure I'm like every other coach in that I have got my fingers crossed and hope we get to play some football this year.
BG: You plan to coach outright this season?
ZP: Brent Mayne is my off-field assistant and will run the bench on match days.