Not content to rest on the back of a Riddell District Football League grand final, Rupertswood has a hunger to go one step further next year, according to new coach
Nick Ash.

“We know we will be one of the hunted next year,” Ash said. “We will need to work on our weaknesses and practice our strengths to keep getting better.

“Nothing is ever given … you have to work hard for it.”

Ash, who has taken over from Kevin Fitzgerald, said it had been an easy transition into the senior role

He was assistant coach the past two seasons and was appointed to the top job midway through this year, when Fitzgerald wouldn’t commit to the role for another year.

“The transition has been really good,” Ash said.

“They’re a great bunch of blokes and I’m working with a group of guys who have an average age of 22.

“Coaching senior football was always the plan. I’ve coached juniors before and now being an assistant coach I got the coaching bug.”

First step for the Sharks during the off season was to ensure they had retained their current playing group.

Ash said all the grand final team had re-signed, while only a few players from across the whole senior program weren’t returning.

Former Rupertswood players Kayne Murphy and Darragh McGovern return to the club, having played with RDFL rival Sunbury Kangaroos this year.

Ash said they were really making a focus of bringing players back to the club.

“I’ve played a bit against Kayne and he’s a good player,” he said. “Getting Darragh back is important. He’s one of the fittest blokes and will teach the younger blokes how to go about things.”

Joining them at Rupertswood, are John Barnard and Leigh Wellington, who come from Essendon District Football League premier division. The pair will add much-needed height to the team.

“Leigh didn’t play a lot of footy this year with elbow surgery,” Ash said. “He’s played senior football with Strathmore for a number of years. I grew up next door to him in Riddell. He’s a centre-half forward, centre-half back.

“John played senior football this year as a ruckman-forward. We lacked a second ruckman with [Joel] West injured and Jackson Berry going down injured.

“It gives us the luxury of putting Putty [Dean Putt] up forward and we saw what he did in the grand final.”

Dylan Dremel and Jake Benton have also joined the club, while Cam McRorie returns to the Sharks after finishing third in Coburg’s development league best and fairest award.

Ash said the club would continue to give younger players an opportunity to play seniors.

“Under Kev we played about 20 debutantes and will look to do the same thing next year,” he said.

“Depth is one of our biggest things and guys who do the work will get opportunities.”