Yet again Shepparton Swans enter the first round with no expectations.
With Justin George replacing former coach Paul Griffiths, who spent a year at the club, the Swans need to become accustomed to another game plan.
George has favoured an attacking game style that will be debuted at Princess Park against Mansfield tomorrow.
‘‘We’ve worked hard through our practice match schedule and I like the way we are moving the ball at the moment,’’ George said.
A new-look side will be wearing the red and white and the emerging young players have been rewarded for their commitment to the Swans.
While experienced midfielder Chris Cullinan will take on the captaincy role, developing leaders in Jayden Clarke and Jared Service have been appointed his deputies.
Clarke’s and Service’s responsibilities grew last season with the duo producing solid seasons in a year where the Swans won just twice.
‘‘Chris is the senior assistant coach and I’m a bit old school in thinking that a playing assistant coach should captain the side,’’ George said.
‘‘We’re an extremely young group and I don’t want to burden young players who are still trying to establish themselves as senior players, so the whole purpose is that Chris does the job and Jayden and Jared learn leadership from Chris and there is a succession plan for whenever Chris retires.’’
The Swans will meet a side nearing full strength as Corowa-Rutherglen star James Lawton edges closer to being an Eagle.
Having moved to Mansfield, the Roos have been reluctant to release their gun from his contract, but after denying a third clearance request Lawton will appeal to AFL Victoria Country.
Eagles coach Cameron Hotton hopes Lawton will line-up against Shepparton next week, while the rest of his key players are reaching full fitness.
‘‘One of our recruits Dean Carswell (from Lilydale) looked good in our first practice match and rolled his ankle in the second, but he’s looked good and has been able to get his ankle right, so we’re looking forward to seeing him,’’ Hotton said.
Fellow recruit Ashraf Davies has had to recover from his own injury concerns to play in the midfield alongside Brett Mahoney, who Hotton said had attacked pre-season with gusto and remarkably looked even stronger than previous years.