After missing finals for the first time in 14-years in 2019, Yarrawonga has unleashed one of the club's biggest recruiting blitzes and added a wealth of class and depth to its list.
Willie Wheeler, Leigh Masters (Williamstown), Sam Schulz (Culcairn), Tyler Bonat (injury), Lachie Howe (Blackburn), Jacob Adkins (Moonee Valley), Zechariah Cuppens (Finley), Joseph Gorman (Cobram), Connor Griffiths (Melton), Logan Morey (Barooga), Joshua Patterson (Finley), Bronson Schofield (Queensland), Riley Welsh (Beaconsfield), Tyler Lovell (Torquay), Zack Smith, Joel ODwyer, Reid Clarke, Matthew McCabe (Rennie) Liam Russell (Mulwala) Brodey Rudd (Cobram ), Cameron Sudholz (Barooga), Mark McQualter (Berrigan)
Matt Gorman (Mooroopna), Will Gorman (Berrigan), Damon Symes (Tungamah), Jake Wild (Diamond Creek) Luke Congram, Mitch Collins Bye (Tocumwal) Timothy McAuley (Berrigan)
Q&A WITH LEIGH MASTERS
Q: What has been your first impression of the O&M?
A: We played Wangaratta Rovers in a practice match and I was impressed by the standard although both sides were a bit rusty.
Q: What role do you expect to play this season?
A: I expect to predominantly play centre half-back depending on match-ups and team balance.
Q: You are more of an attacking defender in contrast to playing a lockdown role?
A: I like to back my ability to read the play and take a calculated risk rather than simply try and negate my opponent.
Q: You played a lot of football against Anthony Miles who you meet again in the opening round at Albury?
A: I played a fair bit of football against Anthony and have met him a few times off the ground through mutual friends. Obviously he will be one of the stars of the competition and I'm glad I don't have to chase him around.
Q: Yarrowonga landed numerous high-profile recruits but also have some exciting kids coming through the ranks?
A: That's the exciting thing about the club is the mix of senior players and the junior talent pushing for selection. Bailey Frauenfelder has caught my eye over the pre-season alongside Will Sexton and Joel O'Dwyer.
IN OTHER NEWS
WHAT LIES AHEAD?
CAN WE EXPECT THE PIGEONS' FINALS ABSENCE TO BE SHORT-LIVED?
Definitely. Any side that boasts players the calibre of Leigh Masters, Willie and Harry Wheeler, Lachie Howe, Mark Whiley, Sam Schulz, Tyler Bonat and Xavier Leslie should not only be a finals contender but a serious flag threat.
COULD STAR PIGEON RECRUIT WILLIE WHEELER MISS THE SEASON?
Let's hope not because the absence of the midfield dynamo will rob the competition of one of its biggest drawcards. But speculation is rife Wheeler will be forced to miss the season with a foot complaint. Pigeon officials are yet to comment officially on the extent of the injury which only fuels rumours that it could be the worse case scenario. Given the tight-nature of the competition, Wheeler could be the difference between the Pigeons securing a top-three finish. Fingers crossed but only time will tell.
WILL THE PIGEONS BOAST THE PREMIER BIG MAN COMBINATION IN THE COMPETITION?
The off-season departure of Tom McDonagh from Myrtleford has tipped the scales in the Pigeons' favour. The return of Lachie Howe to J.C. Lowe could prove to be the missing piece in the Pigeons' premiership puzzle. Howe alongside Brandon Symes and Riley Welsh provide Yarrawonga with three recognised ruckmen unrivalled by opposition clubs. Symes is coming off a knee injury suffered in 2019 and having an extra 12 months to recover should work in his favour.
CAN TYLER BONAT HAVE AN IMPACT AFTER A LONG INJURY LAY-OFF?
Bonat is a fierce competitor and one of the hardest trainers in the competition and will leave no stone unturned as he attempts to recapture his best form. Last time the midfield ace was fully fit was in 2017, he won the Morris medal. Bonat will also have the luxury of playing in a star studded midfield comprising coach Mark Whiley, Xavier Leslie, Willie and Harry Wheeler and Sam Schulz. Form fluctuates but class is permanent, so expect Bonat to have a big impact in the Pigeons' premiership assault.
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