It’s young talent time at Berwick

Ashton Williamson will be one of the young players expected to drive Berwick this season. 341634 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Marcus Uhe

Berwick is approaching the 2024 Eastern Football Netball League season with a mantra of ‘no fear’ as it embraces the injection of youth at senior level.

A host of senior players, including Travis Tuck, Harry Money, Anthony Vella and Jayden Graham have left Edwin Flack Reserve, while captain Will Aurthurson will miss the entire season due to a torn ACL, presenting opportunities for the club’s bounty of Under 19s and emerging senior players to take the reins.

The circumstances have forced Clint Evans and Wickers to implement a quick game-style that will aim to catch opponents on the hop.

“It’s going to take us, probably, a little while to get back up, but we’ve got a lot of young guys that we’ll get games into that probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity,” Evans said.

“We’re going to have to try and slingshot off halfback and change lanes a fair bit.

“We’re not big, so we’re going to try and get sides on the outside with our speed.

“We’re going to make mistakes and we understand that, but we’ve just got to keep on learning.”

Ashton Williamson and Caydn Lane have been among the standouts in training and in practice matches to date, while Josiah Kyle and Sam Hilton-Joyce will bring an injection of flair to the Wickers’ forward line, with Hilton-Joyce providing a tantalising sample late last year of his capabilities, kicking 11 goals in seven games.

It’s in front of goal where the Wickers will need assistance, with Money joining Charlie Muley in the departure lounge, two of the club’s most dangerous in recent years.

Berwick was excellent defensively last season, forcing its way into the top half of sides for least points conceded, but struggled to capitalise on opportunities at the other end of the ground.

And while a number have recommitted for 2024, the club has been unable to shake the torrid injury curse that has followed them like a black cloud in previous years.

Arthurson, last season’s best-and-fairest, already has company on the injured list, in ruck, Jesse Cirulis, and midfielder, Nick Hillard.

Development will be fast-tracked for those that do don the Berwick jumper, paving the way for a bright future.

“It’s a whole new club at the moment, which is exciting,” Evans said.

“When I started, I think there’s four guys left, from round one when we played Noble after Covid-19.

“The guys that left were 28, 29, 30 (years old) – the guys we’re bringing in are 18, 19, 20-year-old kids who are going to improve.

“We’ve got a mantra that, we just want to go out and enjoy our footy, and not play timid footy; if you make a mistake, don’t drop your head, just keep going, because that’s how we’re going to improve.

“It might take one or two years but for the footy club moving forward, it’s really good.”

The Wickers will get a sense of just where they need to go when they tackle defending premiers, Rowville, at Rowville, in round one on Saturday.