Action on the field might not be kind to Echuca at the moment, but the club is leading the way behind the scenes.
The announcement last week of superstar Simon Buckley’s intentions to stay a Murray Bomber was always going to entice other players to put pen to paper, and the club’s inkwell is surely starting to run dry.
Three more important members of Echuca’s core group have committed their services to the club for next season and president Brett Stevens said there would be plenty more to come.
‘‘We’re trying to get everyone to commit within a reasonable period of time so we know who we need to go out and recruit,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve got to get on the front foot in regards to that given our disappointing end to the year.’’
Ruory Kirkby, Daniel Willis and Cam Valentine will all return for another campaign at Victoria Park Oval, giving Echuca supporters renewed hope that their side might finally return to September action after last appearing in 2011.
‘‘Obviously it’s really good for the club and to have someone like Simon Buckley commit for seven years without having played finals is good for us as well,’’ Stevens said.
‘‘We’ve got a bit of a lack of middle-aged players, your 23, 24, 25 and 26-year-olds, so we’re really concentrating on retaining our good experienced players as well as the young players.
‘‘That gap will also have to be dealt with in recruiting.’’
The trio has signed up for season 2018, with Stevens acknowledging that a two-year deal like Buckley’s is usually an anomaly.
‘‘Young blokes don’t know what they want to do in 18 months, so the majority of deals are for one year,’’ he said.
‘‘We find it an exception for someone to sign up for two or more.’’
As for the hunt for a new coach, with incumbent Andrew Briggs stepping down after this season, Stevens was confident the club would be able to secure a leader sooner, rather than later.
‘‘We have spoken to quite a lot of people,’’ he said.
‘‘It would be difficult to make any potential coaching announcements during the season, but we are well down the track with that.’’