Grand rematch on Pleasant’s home turf

April 5, 2024 BY

Blues V Saints: Last year's HDFNL grand finalists are back to battle as the 2024 season kicks off. Photo: FILE

THE rematch of last season’s grand finalists, Mount Pleasant and Heathcote at Toolleen highlights Saturday’s start to the Bendigo Bank Heathcote District FNL senior footy season.

Mount Pleasant will unveil its 20th premiership flag before the great rivals fight to claim their first premiership points of a new campaign.

A key change for Mounts was the appointment of Cam Carter as coach after premiership-winning coaches Adam Baird and Ben Weightman moved on.

Being in charge of a team chasing back-to-back premierships is a feat Carter has done successfully.

Heathcote coach Andrew Saladino said the Saints were near full-strength for round one.

“Bill Direen has a broken toe and will not play,” he said. “It’s a blow as Bill is one of our best defenders.”

A significant duel will be in the ruck where Heathcote now has former Kyneton captain James Orr in the red, white and black.

“Jimmy’s athleticism and ability to cover so much ground is a huge plus for us,” Saladino said.

“He runs and moves like a midfielder and could go forward at times.”

Orr will take on Mounts captain Chris Down who was best afield in last September’s grand final victory.

“There’s a lot of great ruckmen in our league. Jimmy and Chris are two of the best,” said Saladino.

Centre clearances will be a key focus. At ground level Heathcote has Sam Cheatley medallist Liam Jacques, Braden Padmore and another gun recuit in Zak Saad to create chances for an attack led by the brilliance of Corey Grindlay.

Saladino said Heathcote would be planning for Jack Hickman, a premiership-winning midfielder with Golden Square to be playing.

“Another dangerous player is Mitch Rovers,” he said. “We will be expecting him to spend more time on-ball, but are aware of what he can do in attack.”

Recruits for the Blues include Dylan Barber and Daniel Dempster from Kangaroo Flat; forward Ben Bissett; and Morningside’s Daniel Frame to bolster key defensive stocks.

The Blues also have Zac Featherby back in action after missing a lot of last season.

Riley and Tyler McNamara, Bailey and Fletcher White are four of Mount Pleasant’s best.