Mountain men start a new chase
CHASING back-to-back senior footy premierships is something Mount Pleasant has done many times in Bendigo Bank Heathcote District FNL history.
The Blues build-up for another back-to-back quest and a 21st premiership started last Monday at Spring Gully Oval.
The man who led the club to its most recent back-to-back flag wins in 2005 and 2006, Cam Carter is back as senior coach.
There’s been significant change for the Toolleen-based club since the latest grand final win against Heathcote.
The Blues go into 2024 without gun players Adam Baird, Ben Weightman and William Wallace.
“Adam and Ben are not just brilliant players, but also premiership coaches,” Carter said.
One of the competition’s best defenders, Wallace has signed with Sandhurst.
“We have kept about 80 per cent of the premiership-winning team,” Carter said of a squad which fought from an elimination final to claim the cup.
“A lot of them are in their early 20s and their best footy is yet to be played.”
Bailey and Fletcher White, Riley McNamara and Mitch Rovers are among those Carter believes can have a greater impact next year.
Caelan Smith kicked four goals in the grand final and will play a crucial role in the forward 50-metre arc.
There’s also the experience of top ruckman and captain Chris Down, and Bryce Hinneberg in defence.
The Blues have also shown strong depth in recent seasons as the reserves won the premiership in 2022 and were top three last season.
Mount Plesant’s pre-season will involve Monday and Wednesday sessions in a three-week block before the Christmas-New Year break.
“A big focus will be on skills work,” said Carter. “I have trust in the players to be doing a lot of running, individually or in small groups.”
For the Blues it’s not just about building fitness and improving skills, but also their mindset.
“A challenge is going from hunter to hunted,” said Carter who has grasped the opportunity to return to coaching,” said Carter.