We may still be five months away from the beginning of the 2023 Eastern Football Netball League season but there’s already been plenty of movement with clubs announcing some massive key signings.
The official transfer window opens on the first of February but here’s a look at some of the early recruitment announcements made from the clubs.
Doncaster East’s first signing for the 2023 season is a massive inclusion for the club with the former playing coach at Upper Ferntree Gully committing to the Lions. During his time at Upper Ferntree Gully, the star defender was selected twice in the division Team of the Year while having a profound impact on the development of the current youth at the club.
Beyond his time at Upper Ferntree Gully, Tynan brings a wealth of experience on the field, with an impressive ten-year VFL career with Port Melbourne and Casey that featured a Best and Fairest in a premiership year. Having played under Senior coach Ryan James who was a defensive coach at Port Melbourne, the move makes a lot of sense. Playing alongside defensive leader Simon White in the backline will help assist in continuing to drive plenty of their attack from half-back, one of the side’s big strengths.
The Lions are coming off a 14-point Semi Final loss to South Croydon and will be looking at areas to fill to turn the side into a potential Premiership side. This is the perfect start to the off-season for the club with Tynan’s experience, adding to their list of experienced veterans of the likes of Sam Rowe, Zac Clarke, Simon White and James Appleby.
Josh Wall, Michael Griechen, Jack Haag and Cooper Holmes
Without dual Chandler Medallist Blake Pearson in 2023, Norwood has looked at adding more depth to their midfield with the likes of Michael Griechen and Josh Wall.
Griechen is a strong inside midfielder who has spent the year playing for Centrals Trinity Beach where he was awarded the league’s best and fairest medal in the AFL North Queensland league. His ability to win the ball and contest along with hitting the scoreboard will help assist Norwood in staying in the mix. Wall can also be used in the midfield but having a great contested mark, he may be used up forward and give the side another avenue to goal.
A former dual premiership player with the Eagles returns home in 2023 after a year at Leongatha. Willcocks ticks all the boxes of the club’s current needs, a key position experienced player that has exceptional marking abilities. The veteran played a total of 88 senior games for the Eagles, kicking 45 goals. Vermont has recently blooded a lot of youth into their senior side over the last two years and will be able to use Willcocks as someone for the younger players to learn from to help develop their own game.
Dermot Reynolds, Bailey D’Monte, Ben Cardamone, Emi Alexio, Ethan Bland and Tyler Dobay
After missing out on playing Finals in 2022, the Blues have been on the front foot early in the off-season.
Dermot Reynolds and Bailey D’Monte join the Blues from Mooroolbark. Reynolds will bring some height, with the ability to cover different positions on the ground while D’Monte adds some much-needed scoring power as a great target up forward. Three of their other recruits are young players moving across from Vermont. Emi Aleixo heads that list, gaining a lot of experience at the premier division level, playing 16 games in the senior side in 2022. He’ll add plenty to their midfield with his quick speed and ability to hit the scoreboard. Tyler Dobay and Ethan Bland also depart the Eagles for the Blues after both making senior appearances this year.
With the addition of youth, Croydon also welcomes back Ben Cardamone, moving back from Cairns to Hewish Road in 2023 after a year away from the league. The former Eastern Rangers star comes as a very handy inclusion as the Blues aim for a return to the Finals series.
Ben Hickleton and Ethan Stone
An exciting recruit for the 2023 season, premiership player Ben Hickleton has moved across from East Ringwood. Hickleton played a vital role in this year’s premiership side as a lively forward, finishing the year with 26 goals from 17 matches. Listed in the club’s best players six times across the year, Hickleton played his role in what was the most dangerous forward line in the division.
His experience is key for the club and will be vital moving forward with a few key names moving on from Lilydale such as Mitchener and McNay who both featured in the top four of the club’s Best and Fairest in 2022.
Ethan Stone also heads to Lilydale, with a chance at playing some senior football in Division One after an impressive season with Chirnside Park, finishing in the best six times.
Nick Hallo, Danny Baglava and Bailey Cowman
Joining his brother Jackson, Nick Hallo has made the move to Mitcham, adding more quality depth to their midfield. Hallo has started his senior career with three consecutive Best and Fairest wins at The Basin along with three appearances in the EFNL Division Two Teams of the Year. Mitcham has started to build their side around a core group of young players which sets the historic club up for the future and gives them a pathway back to the top division. Hallo will play inside the midfield alongside Alex Barton Smith and Jesse Uren who both finished in the top two of the club’s best and fairest.
Also committing to the club is ruckman Danny Baglava who played the majority of his footy at Balwyn where he won the 2017 Reserves league best and fairest, before moving to Oakleigh. The inclusion eases the pressure on both Elms and Gordan and gives the Tigers more opportunities to move the magnets around. Bailey Cowman will also join the club in 2023, coming across from division rival, Wantirna South. After playing 16 senior games for the Devils this year, Cowman impressed the club with his contested marking abilities and work rate.
A strong few recruits for a club that fell just one game short of the 2022 Division One Grand Final.
Geordie Nagle and Greg Lord
While the Demons say farewell to a couple of experienced stars Andrew Haining and Billy Schilling, they’ve also welcomed a couple of new faces. Geordie Nagle has signed on for season 2023, reunited with Gary Ayres after playing under him at Port Melbourne three years ago. Recently, Nagle has been playing in the VAFA for DE La Salle as a talented midfielder who can create plenty of run off the half-back too.
He’ll join Greg Lord who has signed with the Demons after finishing as a runner-up in the Upper Ferntree Gully Best and Fairest. Lord finished in the best nine times from fifteen games with the ability to play multiple positions.
Coming off the back of a Grand Final appearance, Mooroolbark has added some extra experience to the list with former VFL player, Jesse Boyd. Leaving Pascoe Vale Football Club, Boyd can be used as a swingman. An important recruit with both Bailey D’Monte and Dermot Reynolds signing with Croydon for the 2023 season.
Aaron Fenton and Daniel John
The Saints have announced two former players who will be back on the club’s list in season 2023. Ex-Captain Aaron Fenton gives a massive boost to the club’s midfield after a year off, having played 62 senior games for the club between 2015 and 2021. Daniel John also returns to North Ringwood for the first time since 2012, winning two EFNL Reserves Best and Fairest awards for the Saints before moving leagues.
With the club back in the second-tier division for the first time since 2014, North Ringwood will be excited to have a bit more experience back on the list.
Taylor Leggate, Lachlan Bain and Rick Fandrich
A club champion returns home as Taylor Leggate signs with Wantirna South in season 2023 after spending the last two seasons at Boronia. Leggate has 150 plus games of experience for the Devils, multiple best and fairest awards and the honour of being selected in the Wantirna South Team of the Decade of 2010-2019. He’s been a proven match-winner and will give the Devils every chance to make a deep run next September with the ability to play both midfield and up forward.
The Devils have also added a couple of experienced players to the list Lachlan Bain and Rick Fandrich. Moving across from the Northern League, Rick Fandrich will add some scoring power to the side, as a known goal kicker. Lachie Bain also re-joins the Devils, a part of the club’s Under 18’s premiership in 2010. Since then, he’s had an impressive career with the Balwyn Football Club. The experience will also play a huge role in the development of the club’s youth making their way into the senior team.
Josh Begley, Max Brasher, Lachie Wright, Luke Flanagan, Jethro Von Hesse and Haydn Stanley
Plenty of off-season movement for the Hawks as they increase their depth at the club with multiple star players.
Former Essendon and Frankston midfielder Josh Begley is among those significant signings for the club, opening the premiership window up for the Hawks. Begley brings a combination of leadership, experience and talent with the ability to take the side to another level. He’ll be joined by Jethro Von Hesse who spent the last five seasons at Upwey-Tecoma, the two already have a solid connection with one another. Both are versatile quick big-bodied players with exceptional skills.
The club have also continued to develop their midfield depth and versatility with the additions of young stars, Max Brasher, Luke Flanagan, Haydn Stanley and Lachie Wright.
Both Brasher and Flanagan arrive from Upper Ferntree Gully with experience at senior-level footy in Division One. After two EFNL Best and Fairest awards in his junior career, Brasher has transitioned into senior footy well, placing in the top four of the club’s best and fairest in his first year of senior football. Flanagan has also transitioned into senior footy after winning the 2021 Under 19’s Best and Fairest.
A great pick-up for Knox with the key backman coming across from their division rival, The Basin. Weir’s had the job on some of the division’s best key forwards and should have a very positive impact on the club’s defensive game next season.
Lin Jong and Fletcher Roberts
Arguably the biggest off-season moves to date.
The Lions have signed former Western Bulldogs stars Lin Jong and Fletcher Roberts. The two bring a wealth of experience from the elite level, giving their younger core group of players plenty of opportunity to grow and learn. After 65 games in the AFL, Jong will join Mulgrave where he played 14 games at the Under 19 level and played for the club’s junior affiliate, the Glen Waverley Rovers. With connections to individuals at the club, the decision was made easier for the ex-AFL star to transition back into the Eastern FNL.
Jong has been followed by a former teammate at the Western Bulldogs, Fletcher Roberts. Well-known for his defensive performance in the 2016 premiership win, the 29-year-old will have the option to play more time in the forward line. After a promising 2022 season campaign, the inclusions could put Mulgrave back into serious contention for 2023.
The Redbacks have begun to look at recruiting some key figures to strengthen their forward line. Gebel-Lamb re-joins the club, playing a year of Under 19’s footy with Ringwood in 2021 before transferring to Nunawading where he led their goalkicking with 23 goals. Still at a very young age, only about to enter his second year of senior football, Gebel-Lamb will present as a tall forward who’ll give the 2022 Runner-Ups another avenue to goal.
One of the top early off-season recruits sees the Dockers sign the six-time EFNL Team of the Year Ruckman, Beau Mitchener. After two years with the Eastern Ranges, Mitchener has been a key cog for the Lilydale Football Club from the 2016 season onwards. Mitchener played an important role in the team that finished runner-ups in the 2018 season. With over 100 senior games and three top-three finishes in the league best and fairest, the ruckman has been a great servant to the club and someone that can lead Templestowe back to the finals.
Lachlan Kennedy and Brayden Wright
Potentially the best side this year not to have qualified for Finals, the Eagles have begun to boost their list with the additions of Lachie Kennedy and Brayden Wright.
The two have both spent time at Ferntree Gully in the past with Kennedy a team of the decade and premiership player for the Eagles. Since then, he has been a vital part of the Norwood Football Club as a midfield/forward who finished in the best five times from fourteen games in 2022.
Joining him is Brayden Wright, boosting the club’s ruck stocks. The former Eagles junior has since been a 2018 Premiership Player with Boronia and has just finished up as a Runner Up in the division two reserves league best and fairest.
Blake Pearson, Zak Bozanich, Mitch Trait, Jacob Warne, Daniel Di Fede, Matt Nicholas and Hadrian Prest
Oakleigh District has made some big changes ahead of the second official season in the EFNL. Norwood’s Blake Pearson will lead the club on the field in 2023 as a playing coach. The Back-to-Back Chandler Medal winner is the perfect candidate for the club which will be playing in Division Three next season, joining his brother, Ryan. A great football mind who’s had five years of VFL experience at Port Melbourne before joining Norwood. He’ll have a big task ahead of him, bringing a new system and structure to the club while improving the guys around him.
Since Oakleigh announced the signing of Pearson, the club have continued to add to their list including the signing of key forward, Zak Bozanich. After 41 goals from just 14 games at Springbank in 2021, including a match-winning goal after the siren in the Preliminary Final, Bozanich will be a huge weapon up forward for Oakleigh who averaged less than four goals a game.
Expect big improvements in 2023.
The Pioneers have a new coach who’ll continue to put on the boots of Andrew Haining. A huge get for the club, his achievements in the league speak for themselves, over 200 games, a 2014 Chandler Medallist and a three-time team of the year member. The Montrose premiership player will not only add talent on the field but will bring a new style of leadership to the club and assist in developing a reasonably young list.
Sean Casey and Ned Bradley
Strengthening their side from this season, the Zebras have made two pickups from Glen Waverley with both Sean Casey and Ned Bradley committing to the club in 2023. Casey has been a consistent senior player for the Hawks, working hard as a midfielder that can push forward while Bradley comes across as a key position player who can work at both ends of the ground.
Ryan McNay, Brandon Droessler and Jaycob Devir
Breaking their finals drought this year, Kilsyth will be aiming to take it another step further in 2023, picking up three Division One recruits.
Ryan McNay and Brandon Droessler have both committed to the Cougars for season 2023, leaving the Lilydale Football Club. Both boys bring across some height and the ability to fill some key positions on the ground. A former captain of the Lilydale Football Club, McNay is a natural leader and one of the league’s best inside midfielders while Droessler is a strong utility player who spent most of his time at Lilydale at centre half-back.
The club have also boosted their ruck stocks with the recent announcement of Bayswater’s Jaycob Devir who stands at 200cm.
Jack Paravicini, Connor Moon, Jack Murray, Nathan Urbano and Adam Brongeest
A new look Magpies side has regained a few former players to return to their best on the field in 2023.
Jack Paravicini, Nathan Urbano and Adam Brongeest all return to Scoresby after time away from the club. Paravicini played a total of 57 senior games for the Magpies, kicking 41 goals before leaving this year to play one season with Dalyston. Bronsgeest is in a similar position, returning after a year with Forest Hill, playing just three games. He’ll bring some leadership qualities and over 100 games experience of senior footy.
The additions back on the list could put the club in contention for a Division Four premiership.