Ballarat District Bowls Division will field just four of the 10 teams in the elite inter-region premier competition, which kicks off this Saturday.
Sebastopol, Webbcona and Victoria will be joined in the league by Ballarat Memorial Sports, which is back in the top flight after success in last season’s BDBD division one grand final.
Both Buninyong and City Oval were relegated from Geelong-Ballarat Premier Bowls after occupying the last two positions on the table at the end of the 2016-17 home and away rounds.
Promoted side Eastern Park now joins Lara, City of Geelong, Ocean Grove, Bareena and reigning premiers Queenscliff as the Geelong-based clubs.
BMS appears to have kept a relatively similar squad to last season, but Glenn Mattei and Shane Vance are expected to return to play for the club.
The Kookaburras have reported a host of key departures – including Jarrad Sergi, Josh Barry and Stuart Hedger – but the return of skip Simon Cornock and Brett Forrest will be important.
Victoria’s Paul Tudorovic said Shaun Clark and Kevin Coad were among those not playing this season, but revealed Andrew Panther and Wayne Saunders were set for a return to the team.
The departure of top player Brett Mahoney is a huge loss for Webbcona, but ex-Victoria bowler Tony Lange and Jeff Grieve, a former Mt Xavier player who has moved back from interstate, are the key inclusions for the new campaign.
Webbcona will also field a division one outfit in 2017-18 after winning the division two title last season.
Buninyong and City Oval are expected to be among the top contenders for the premiership after coming back from a higher division.
Former Central Wendouree player John Nunn is the key pick-up for Buninyong, while City Oval has lured Sandy Grano from Midlands Golf, but will be without the likes of Callum Mann and Stan Meale.
Mt Xavier bowler Brian McKeegan said skip Chris McDonald wouldn’t be playing in 2017-18, while Creswick men’s secretary Ron Head said his top side would be missing Scott Pollard and Geoff Annear.
Last year’s beaten grand finalists Learmonth will continue its pursuit of a long-awaited division one title, but that might be tough given a host of significant departures.
Learmonth men’s secretary Mick Casey said Wes and Fred Lennecke, Noel McGuigan and Leon Davey were not playing this season.
East Ballarat skipper Grant Bourke has decided to take a year off, while Shayne Bromilow has moved from Sebastopol to Ballarat for the current campaign.
Ballarat has also picked up Pollard from Creswick and Luke Cornish from Learmoth.