CAMPERDOWN coach Phil Carse believes his side is on the right path to establishing itself as a finals contender this season.
The Magpies open their 2018 campaign at Leura Oval against Terang Mortlake on Saturday and Carse said his side was primed for the year after a strong pre-season.
“It’s been a really good pre-season,” he said.
“We’ve had good buy-in in terms of attendance and the boys have increased their fitness and strength throughout the pre-season.
“I think we’re in a good position ahead of round one.”
Camperdown has played practice matches against Modewarre, Hamilton, Colac and North Warrnambool in preparation for the season and Carse was pleased with the progress shown in those games.
He said it was evident there had been improvement within the group from last year, already identifying some key changes to the way his side plays.
“There have been a couple of things I’ve noticed,” Carse said.
“Our run and spread has certainly improved, we are winning more ball on the outside (which is positive).
“And our voice and communication as well, particularly as the pre-season wore on.
“Our voice and leadership in our games against Colac and North Warrnambool really improved, which is good to see because it’s been an Achilles heel for us.”
The Magpies have had some player turnover this off-season with Jordan Bain (Queensland), Marcus Hamilton (Northern Territory), Charlie Fry, Liam Darcy (university), Mitch McLaughlin (Rokewood-Corindhap) and Troy McLaughlin (Rokewood-Corindhap) all departing the club.
However, their exits have been offset by the return of former players Nick Bateman (Woorndoo Mortlake), Luke Mahony (Southern Mallee Giants) and Fraser Lucas (Myrtleford), Werribee listed wingman Jason Robinson and Patrick Fairhead (Werribee).
Fairhead is available to play the whole season at Camperdown after spending last season at the Tigers and has impressed in the hit-outs against Colac and North Warrnambool.
Also returning to the club is Daniel Hickey (Lake Wendouree) and Jake Clissold (Geelong), with the pair giving the club additional depth.
Camperdown had a disappointing 2017, with injuries to key players and inconsistent form hampering the side through the first half of the year.
However, the side improved across the final nine rounds and finished the season on a positive note, winning their last three games.
Carse said he wants to see his side make inroads on last season’s finish, with finals the main aim.
He said there was no limitation on what the playing group can achieve this season and the belief amongst the group was they could match it with the league’s best.
“Coming off seven wins last season, I want to see improvement on that,” Carse said.
“It’s no secret we want to be playing in September; we don’t want to be watching on again this year.”
Fresh faces in open netball
CAMPERDOWN open netball coach Sharon Kenna is confident her side can match it with the competition’s best despite an off-season transformation.
The Magpies suffered a double blow, losing both their goalies from last season’s grand final side.
The Finch girls, Jaymie and Emily, both departed the club to play for arch-rival Cobden.
However, Kenna said she is confident the club’s additions to its senior brigade can help cover the loss of the star pair.
She takes the reins from Peter Finch, who guided the club to consecutive grand finals during his tenure.
“We’ve held onto five of our senior girls from last season,” she said.
“But our biggest loss is losing the two Finch girls and them both being goalies is a massive loss.
“But in saying that, we have some really good junior girls and some others coming to the club that can play in goals.”
Kenna said the Magpies have added Amy Morssinhkof (Brisbane West Lions), Jocelyn McDonald (Kolora-Noorat) and Genevieve McLeod to its playing ranks this season and was excited to have all three onboard.
She said Morssinhkof comes to the club through a mutual friend, but was unsure of how many games she would play this season.
“Amy is from Queensland and she played state league netball up there,” Kenna said.
“She’s moved to Melbourne and is at uni but is really keen to come down to Camperdown.
“She is a likely prospect and is a goalie and hopefully we can work something out with her.
“Jocelyn is another goalie and is a handy pick up, while Gen is a midcourter but she hurt herself in the practice match against Colac and might miss the first round.”
Kenna said there was little expectation on the group this season, knowing all too well what lies ahead.
She said while the aim is to play finals, she knows the juniors who take to the court need the opportunity to develop their games at senior level.
“I’m thick enough to know that it’s going to be a learning year for us,” she said.
“We still hope to hit the five and finish in that fourth or fifth position but until the first round, you don’t know what other teams are like.
“I’m confident we’re going to be competitive in our games.
“But we have to allow ourselves time because we have some young girls playing and it might take them a bit to get used to playing senior netball.”