Williamstown will get a chance to avenge last year’s Victorian Football League preliminary final loss to the Casey Scorpions when it meets the re-named Casey Demons in the blockbuster season opener at Burbank Oval.
The Seagulls have opted to play the showdown with last year’s minor premiers on Easter Monday to take advantage of a day that has traditionally been a football-free zone for suburban and state league competitions.
“It’s a really good initiative by the footy club,” Seagulls coach Andrew Collins said.
“Easter Monday has been dominated by Hawthorn and Geelong, but not everyone is a Hawthorn or Geelong supporter.
“It’s a good opportunity for us as a footy club to maybe control that little [Easter Monday] market in the west.”
Williamstown can set up its season in the opening month with three of its first four games in the friendly confines of Burbank Oval.
There are no ‘gimme’ games in that block for the Seagulls, so they will need to be at their best from the get-go to defend their home turf.
While Collins knows a positive start is crucial for any side, he warned his players not to look any further ahead than the Casey game.
“I think that I read this stat that out of the AFL last year, there was only one shift of places in the top eight after round two,” he said.
“It’s critical that we get off to a really high-end start and … making a statement to the competition that we’re going to be a pretty good team.
“But, really, everything is focused on that round one encounter.”
There were plenty of exciting player acquisitions for Williamstown over the summer, which makes tomorrow night’s team selection one of the most eagerly anticipated in a long time.
Making it harder on the selectors, the Seagulls have nearly a full list of players to choose from.
Former Frankston trio Ben Cavarra, Josh Newman and Kyle Gray could make their Seagulls debuts. It will be back to the future for Adam Marcon, who returns to the Seagulls nest after a season with Richmond in the AFL.
A surprise selection could be Nick Ebinger, a former Williamstown CYMS player who has trained the house down.
Collins reckons the contest will be won and lost in the midfield. He is looking to the ruck contest between Williamstown’s Nick Meese and Casey’s Melbourne-listed Jake Spencer.
Ben Jolley will lead Williamstown out as captain for a sixth straight year.
The Seagulls have no shortage of leaders with a nine-man leadership group announced in the pre-season, including Marcon, Ed Carr and Willie Wheeler named vice captains.
Meanwhile, Footscray will host Box Hill Hawks on Good Friday in its first competitive game since last year’s grand final win.
It will be a big day for Bulldogs fans, who will get to see the unfurling of their 2016 VFL flag, before heading to Etihad Stadium when the Western Bulldogs clash with North Melbourne.