Will the Magpies go back-to-back, or will the Tigers roar? Will the Bombers fly up or the Hawks soar? The Saints have their eyes on the cup so check out the Season Preview for players to watch and much, much more.
Collingwood Magpies – 2018 record: 7 wins – 0 losses – 1 draw (Premiers)
2018 was Collingwood’s year. They went through the year undefeated with the only blemish in a near perfect season, a Round 9 draw with St Kilda (which was undoubtedly match of the year). As Captain Brendan Stroud suggests, a new year brings new challenges.
“The Pies had a successful inaugural VWFL season, however we know that 2019 will be present new challenges. Every team has had a taste of the competition and is ready to strive higher and build the league into something even greater in its second year.”
Losing three of their most experienced campaigners to retirement, filling the void left by Richard Amon, Orfeo Cecconato and Mark Walker will be tough. However, drafting the league’s top goal scorer from 2018 Riley Fitzgerald (formerly Richmond) is sure to help, as is the addition of Will Taylor (Essendon).
Watch for: Brett Newman to take his game to another level, and new players in a new look team to get better and better as the season goes on under the tutelage of Brendan Stroud.
Richmond Tigers: 6-2-0
The Tigers were feared throughout the season yet looked more like toothless Tigers on Grand Final Day, suffering a heavy defeat at the hands of Collingwood.
They quietly made some nice pick-ups through the Draft bringing on board Australian Wheelchair basketballer Teisha Shadwell (Essendon), Miranda Charlton (Essendon) and Ben Milton (Essendon) all swapping their sashes from red to yellow.
Matt Morris suggests “The 2019 Tigers are a solid outfit not to be underestimated. We have trained very purposefully during the pre-season.”
Watch for: More of the same from the Tigers of old, as they look to put their disappointing end of the year behind them. Will fly under the radar and pounce at the pointy end of the season!
St Kilda Saints: 4-3-1
“The 2019 Saints team have undergone a strong rebuild, strengthening our talent in all areas.”
By the end of the season the Saints were the in-form team of the competition, pushing Collingwood all the way in the Round 9 battle for the ages. So, to hear Captain Marcus Sander say they’ve strengthened in all areas should strike fear into all competitors. The Saints also retained 2018 MVP Patrick McKay and Ryan Smith, who was named All-Australian at the recent Wheelchair Aussie Rules Nationals.
“We will be fiercely competitive this season and have our sights set on battling it out in the 2019 Grand Final, GO SAINTS!!”
Watch for: Ryan ‘Rhino’ Smith to be a force up forward throughout the year and teamwork will again be the name of the game for the Saints in 2019.
Essendon Bombers: 2-6-0
A lot of people are talking up the Saints chances in 2019, but Essendon isn’t too far behind in those conversations.
Adding Anthony ‘The Banana’ Perito (formerly St Kilda – pictured right) alongside Caleb ‘The Seagull’ Logan up forward could be the best 1-2 combination in the league. While Sam Maraldo (Hawthorn) adds some more intensity to the line-up. Other new players include Nic Briant (new), Rosie Jenes (St Kilda), Liam Fitzgerald (Richmond) and youngster Angelo Mavroudis (new).
Captain Louis Rowe says “The Bombers have had a massive pre-season with four players representing Victoria in the Nationals. We are looking to bring an intensity and fast paced brand of football to the league, which will hopefully put us in contention later in the year.”
Watch for: Essendon to play an exciting, high-scoring brand of football with the Banana and the Seagull up forward.
Hawthorn Hawks: 0-8-0
After a slow start to their VWFL story in 2018, the Hawks have certainly put in the hard-yards over the off-season and could surprise a lot of people this year.
After keeping much of their squad together, they’ve built a strong culture and sense of belonging which is sure to translate on court.
“We are the mighty fighting Hawks. We are relentless, courageous, selfless and ready to go all the way for the Championship this season” says Captain Peter Ogunyemi.
Vice-Captain Jason Jinks had a great campaign at Nationals, helping RSL Active to a bronze medal finish, while the addition of experienced wheelchair basketballers Peter Richardson and Brian Owens adds a lot to the side. Joining them is Tasmanian state-rep Joe Chivers who will add some polish to the Hawks squad.
Watch for: The Hawks will be the big movers of the 2019 season, and a top-two finish is not out of the question!
Round 1 of the 2019 VWFL season begins on Sunday 12 May 2019 when St Kilda take on Essendon at 11am, at Boroondara Sports Complex.
CLICK HERE to see the fixture for the 2019 Robert Rose Foundation VWFL Season.