Newlyn has been the talk of the Central Highlands Football League for much of the off-season.
And it’s no wonder when you produce a recruiting drive like the Cats have.
The ability to lure the Sewell brothers back to the club has made headlines and been the centre of huge excitement among Newlyn players and supporters.
First to sign was JJ Liston Trophy winner Myles, before former Cats coach Adam confirmed his return to the cattery. Then came the big news, with Brad committing to some games with Newlyn in 2018. The dual Hawthorn premiership player is expected to feature in enough games to qualify for finals, with the round two clash against Waubra likely to be his first appearance for the year.
On top of those key arrivals, fellow JJ Liston Trophy winner Steve Clifton has also joined the club.
Clifton, who played five AFL games with the GWS Giants, will add even more grunt to a midfield that is arguably now the best in the competition.
Lou Campana, Liam Gill, Bernard Jones and Nathan Elliott are among the other new faces that are likely to have an impact at senior level in 2018.
Newlyn joint-coach Chris Dwyer, who will do the job with sidekick Dan Wehrung for the second season in succession, said there’s clearly a lot more top-end talent and depth at the club this year.
“It’s looking a lot rosier for us,” Dwyer said.
While Dwyer is pleased with the new-look senior list, he isn’t making any bold statements regarding the club’s 2018 prospects.
He knows the side needs to improve greatly after winning just three matches throughout 2017.
“We haven’t really mentioned finals at all,” Dwyer said.
“We are coming from a long way back – we only won three games last year – so as a group the finals are obviously on the radar. The way we have been playing in the pre-season, we are looking alright…
“There is no big grand plans to finish top four or anything like that, but we will improve definitely. Where that sits, I’ve got no idea.”
The Cats will get an idea where they stand with a round one clash against reigning premiers Hepburn.
Q: What do you see as your key on-field strength?
Midfield. We’ve obviously gone out and recruited some quality midfielders to strengthen up this area. This creates a lot of depth in this area this year.
Q: What is your key message as coach in 2018?
Play to our strengths and don’t over complicate things.
Q: How have the pre-season preparations gone?
Really good. The recruiting drive has spurred plenty of enthusiasm in the playing group. Numbers have been strong and consistent from before Christmas to now.
Q: Which player are you most excited about?
More excited about the midfield as a group and seeing what they can achieve more than one specific player.
Q: Which is the team to beat this season?
The top four from last year all look like they will improve again.
The Cats’ Fact File
Chris Dwyer and Dan Wehrung (returning)
14th position, three wins, 13 losses
Leading goal-kicker: Dan Wehrung, 19 goals
Best and fairest: Dan Wehrung
Geoff Taylor Medal top vote-getters: Dan Wehrung 9, Dylan Fishwick 6, Declan Lourey 3, Sean Massey 2, Lachlan Fishwick 2, Joshua Milne 1, Matthew Cosgrave 1, Wesley Carter 1
Myles Sewell (South Croydon), Steve Clifton (Lake Wendouree), Bernard Jones (Bunyip), Nathan Elliott (Wycheproof Narraport), Adam Sewell (Torquay), Brad Sewell (Hawthorn), Lou Campana (North Ballarat City), Liam Gill (Redan)
Daniel Curran (SMW Rovers), Nathan Hura (Irymple), Alex Morrish (Ouyen)
R1: Hepburn (a)
R2: Waubra (h)
R3: Rokewood-Corindhap (a)
R4: Skipton (h)
R5: Creswick (a)
R6: Carngham-Linton (h)
R7: Clunes (a)
R8: Smythesdale (h)
R9: Learmonth (a)
R10: Springbank (a)
R11: Daylesford (h)
R12: Bungaree (a)
R13: Gordon (h)
R14: Buninyong (a)
R15: Ballan (h)
R16: Dunnstown (a)
R17: Beaufort (h)
Newlyn looks set to be one of the big improvers this year, but will the Cats be able to reach the finals?
After finishing 14th last season, a spot towards the bottom end of the top eight certainly looks within grasp.