Werribee Football Club is heading into the new year with enviable midfield depth.
The recruitment of former AFL player Michael Barlow, the return from injury of three-time club champion Matt Hanson and the re-signings of Tom Gribble and Joe Maishman will mean Werribee can compete with any other midfield in the Victorian Football League.
Fresh contracts for Gribble, who will be in his sixth year at Werribee, and Maishman, who will enter his fifth, were secured last week.
Gribble is one of the club’s most experienced players with 73 senior VFL games under his belt – 69 with Werribee and four with Geelong.
The 24-year-old was a ball magnet last season, relishing the chance to play a leading role in a stand-alone side.
Werribee football operations manager Stuart Balloch said Gribble was hitting a “sweet spot”.
“Tom has 70-odd games under his belt now and has picked up another team of the year selection,” Balloch said.
“He really stepped up in the absence of Matt Hanson last year, so when you put Matt back into the side and throw Mick Barlow into the mix, that midfield group starts to look pretty formidable.”
Maishman is another player with plenty of experience, having played 56 VFL games. The 22-year-old had his best season with Werribee last year, featuring in all 18 games and running sixth in the club best-and-fairest.
“He gives us a bit of speed through the midfield and certainly seemed to enjoy the chance to spend more time in the middle, so we’re excited to see what he can do this year,” Balloch said.
Werribee has bolstered its defensive stocks with the signing of former Gold Coast Suns backman Max Spencer, 21, who played eight AFL games with the Suns over two seasons.
A Queensland native, Spencer is keen to challenge himself interstate in a bid to get back on to an AFL list.
“It’s good to have another opportunity to further my game and get outside of my comfort zone,” Spencer said. “Living at home your whole life and playing under the same colours your whole life, you can get a bit comfortable.”
Defenders Dane McFarlane and Ryley Barrack have signed new deals with the club.