Deer Park’s midfield will be taller, bigger and stronger as it strives for a sixth consecutive Western Region Football League division 1 premiership.
The Lions have targeted tall midfielders who will not take a backward step as a key ingredient to warding off the assault on the side’s supremacy that will be coming from opposition clubs in 2018.
“Pretty much our whole centre line will be an average of six-foot-three, which is great moving into our toughest season to date,” Lions coach Marc Bullen said.
“That’s where footy is going now.”
Deer Park has made a splash in the transfer market by signing former Carlton player Paul Bower.
Bower played 70 games in the big league, mainly as a defender, but has since been unleashed into the midfield with Heidelberg at suburban level.
While Bower will play roles as a defender, Bullen considers his main value as a big bodied onballer.
“He’s been in suburban footy for the last four years and he’s demonstrated that he’s still an elite player in the Northern Football League as a six-foot-three onballer who can play down back and do a role as well,” Bullen said.
“He won Heidelberg’s best and fairest last year and won a couple of premierships in a pretty dominant era.
“We’re certainly going to utilise him through the middle of the ground.”
Deer Park has also brought in Dyson Stevens and Jason Williams – both tall midfielders.
Stevens can play at the coalface, while Williams will roam on a wing.
The scary thought for the rest of the competition is those new additions will compliment the star-studded midfielders already in the Deer Park ranks.
The Lions do not have any significant exits so far, so their depth will be as good as it has been in any time over the past five seasons.
“We’re batting very deep, especially adding some six-foot-three midfielders into the mix, complimenting our existing midfield with Jack [Purton Smith], Shannon Byrnes, Kwame [McHarg] and ‘Klixy’ [Kevin Klix] and Spiros [Amarantidis] coming back,” Bullen said.
“We think we’ve got a good nucleus of onballers.”
Deer Park will continue to strive for an edge.
The Lions dynasty is not only about talent, it’s about making the pieces fit and continuing to evolve as a team and a club.
One worry for Bullen is the continued later starts to pre-season brought about by playing deep into the season, but he is full of praise for the work his players put in away from the club to stay in peak condition.
However, he warned his players to expect a tough build-up to the pre-season block of matches.
“Our pre-season has started a bit later in the past, but we’ll have to do a fairly big block of training when we get back and make sure we’re ready to go round one because I believe the league is going to improve overall and we don’t want to be caught napping,” Bullen said.
Deer Park has also added highly rated players Will Krithararis, Taylor Jones and former junior Bronson Booth to the squad.
Jason Kennedy and Rodney van Riet will be playing assistant coaches for the Lions this season.