28 March, 2024

Good Friday set to erupt

Stawell and Ararat will renew their rivalry when they face each other at North Park on Good Friday to kick off the 2024 Wimmera Football Netball League season.

By Chris Graetz

Jack Ganley is one of the key players in the midfield that Stawell need to nullify.
Jack Ganley is one of the key players in the midfield that Stawell need to nullify.

Ararat as reigning premiers face a Stawell team that has recruited well in the off-season. Ararat have a similar side to their 2023 premiership team with only Tex Korewha and Ben Taylor missing.

Sam Cronin and Xav Vearing return to the club whilst Ben McKenzie has come from the Northern Football Netball League in Melbourne after playing with Watsonia.

For Stawell, Tom Eckell returns as coach for another season. Cody Driscoll is returning to full forward, ruckman Josh Fowkes has come on board alongside Mitch Taylor, a key defender from Darwin and expectations are high for the upcoming season.

Due to the two main ovals in Ararat being resurfaced, Ararat has been training on the under 13's football oval, and as a smaller oval, it may be an issue come game time.

Tom Mills and Tom Williamson are joint coaches of Ararat this season and Mills said that they have prepared well and are ready to go despite the oval issue.

"Everyone knows each other and we haven't had to tinker much and everyone has put in a lot of effort in pre-season," Mills said.

"Obviously, training on the smaller ground isn't ideal, but everyone has done the best they can and we are all looking forward to starting the season."

Mills identified a few key battles that will be the key to winning the match, highlighted by Cody Lindsay and Josh Fowkes in the ruck and the need to stop Stawell's full forward Cody Driscoll.

"The ruck is going to be an interesting battle between two very good players. Fowkes is an outstanding player so nullifying him in the ruck will be important," Mills said.

"The other important battle will be between Cody Driscoll and Bayden Cosgriff. Cody is a great full forward so we will see what happens there.

"We are looking forward to getting out there and with the conditions being hot, we need to make sure we manage our fluids properly."

Stawell coach Tom Eckell said they are looking forward to testing themselves against the benchmark of the competition.

"It will be a good contest. They are the benchmark and will be again this year," Eckell said.

"They are strong across the board. We are going to have to stop Jack Ganley, Tom Williamson, Tom Mills who are the three key players in that team.

"If we can try and limit their impact, that will go a long way to beating them. The players are looking forward to getting out there again."


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