Saints get back on training track

November 24, 2023 BY

Going further: The Andrew Saladino-coached Saints will officially start their pre-season next week as the club aims to break a 14-year senior premiership drought. Photo: FILE

HEATHCOTE’S build-up to another season of footy action in the Bendigo Bank Heathcote DFNL kicks off next Wednesday at Pigeon Park in Barrack Reserve.

The Saints were runner-up last season and have made some significant signings in a bid to capture their first senior premiership since 2010.

Newcomers are ruckman James Orr from Kyneton, key position players Daniel Johnstone and Cooper Webber-Mirkin from South Bendigo and Trentham, and Rupertswood midfielder Zac Saad.

In the lead-up to his third season as coach, Andrew Saladino said the club had more height and marking power.

“Plans for pre-season are six sessions before Christmas,” said Saladino. “A big focus again will be on skills work.

“All the players have been given running programs.

“I have always believed that running drills do not always have to be part of training during the week. Players can do running before or after work, on a Saturday or Sunday in pre-season.

“There is a trust in the players knowing and doing what they need to do.”

Saladino said a grand final appearance meant it would be later start to pre-season.

“It was a really big year for all the club,” he said.

“Fitness played a big part in reaching the grand final as we had few injuries when it mattered most at finals time.”

Of the team which played Mount Pleasant in the grand final there will be at least four changes.

Shannon Dowsett and Tom Pain have retired, while Jesse Davies and Lachlan Innes have returned to Wallan.

The Saints to regain Jack Bruce who missed all of the 2023 season because of an ACL injury.

“Jack can play centre half-back or centre half-forward,” Saladino said. “It’s about having the right players for a variety of positions. That’s been the focus of our recruiting, not just this year, but since I rejoined the club.”

The coach said Saints’ fans should be excited about the prospect of Corey Grindlay and Zac Saad teaming up in the forward 50-metre arc.

“Corey’s been outstanding since he joined the club. Zac is an explosive player, whether in midfield or closer to goal,” Saladino said.