CHFL previews 2018 | Is this Beaufort’s year of redemption?

PUMPED: Beaufort big man Jacob Garvey celebrates a goal during the 2017 Central Highlands Football League grand final.

PUMPED: Beaufort big man Jacob Garvey celebrates a goal during the 2017 Central Highlands Football League grand final.

Quite often, the experience of losing a grand final is enough to propel a side to the ultimate glory a year later.

And after being narrowly beaten in the 2017 decider by Hepburn, the hunger will certainly burn within the Beaufort camp.

As low key and routine as coach Rohan Brown wants to keep things during the pre-season, the key indicators point to the Crows giving the 2018 Central Highlands Football League premiership an almighty shake.

The club has maintained the majority of that grand final team and has added some class to make it one of the red-hot flag fancies.

The big arrivals include former Beaufort junior and Lake Wendouree premiership player Ben Hayes, past Geoff Taylor Medal winner Nick Sullivan and ex-VFL gun Daniel Venditti.

Last season’s leading goal-kicker Lachlan Murray hasn’t left the club, but is likely to miss the season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in the grand final.

His loss will hurt, but aside from Hamish McInness, there isn’t too many other key departures to worry about.

“In terms of recruiting we are really happy where we are,” Brown said.

“Retention was our main goal and what we’ve got has put us, hopefully, in a good spot heading forward.”

Despite getting so close to a premiership last year and admitting the senior squad was “pretty hungry to win a flag”, Brown said the playing group had settled on reaching the top four as its initial goal in season 2018.

“We want to finish top four in both seniors and reserves and then we go from there,” he said.

“That double chance is probably the most important thing in our league. Being a big league, to get a double chance is massive.”

Beaufort will get a good idea where it sits in the flag race by the mid-way point of the campaign. The Crows will battle the other seven top eight sides from last year inside the opening nine rounds.

Q: What do you see as your key on-field strength?

A lot of depth. All players can play multiple roles for the side.

Q: What is your key message as coach in 2018?

Play our game style and enjoy the challenges that get thrown at us from week to week.

Q: How have the pre-season preparations gone?

We have had a great pre-season with a lot of focus around match simulation. We had a later start than normal this year and the boys have come back in really good shape.

Q: Which player are you most excited about?

Ben Hayes. He is a local junior coming back to the club and has already had an influence on the group. Also Mitch Jenkins, who is one of our leaders that will play more midfield this year. He hasn’t missed a session and it's as fit as I've seen Mitch.

Q: Which is the team to beat this season?

All.

The Crows’ Fact File

COACH

Rohan Brown (returning)

2017 SEASON

1st position (runners-up), 14 wins, two losses

Top goal-kicker: Lachlan Murray, 57 goals

Best and fairest: Tom Stapleton

Geoff Taylor Medal top vote-getters: Rupert Sangster 13, Tom Stapleton 9, Alexander Petrie 9, Lachlan Murray 7, Jack Duke 7, Scott Howard 6, Michael Foster 5, Joseph Mason 4, Jacob Garvey 4, Mitchell Jenkins 3, Steven Lodge 3, Josh McDermott 3, Digby Sangster 1, Christopher Drew 1

KEY ARRIVALS

Ben Hayes (Lake Wendouree), Daniel Venditti (Coburg), Nick Sullivan (Old Collegians)

KEY DEPARTURES

Hamish McInness (University Blues)

THE FIXTURE

R1: Daylesford (a)

R2: Bungaree (a)

R3: Gordon (h)

R4: Buninyong (a)

R5: Ballan (h)

R6: Dunnstown (a)

R7: Springbank (a)

R8: Hepburn (h)

R9: Waubra (a)

R10: Rokewood-Corindhap (h)

R11: Skipton (a)

R12: Creswick (h)

R13: Carngham-Linton (a)

R14: Clunes (h)

R15: Smythesdale (a)

R16: Learmonth (h)

R17: Newlyn (a)

THE VERDICT

After such a good 2017, you'd have to think Beaufort will be there when the whips are cracking this season.

The fact there has been some handy recruits and minimal key departures means the Crows are again well placed to give the premiership a good shake.