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Yarra Valley Water InFocus 2024 | Mulgrave

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By Blake Martin.

Mulgrave are looking to improve upon their 2023 season, after playing in their first finals campaign since 2014.


The Club finished last season in fifth, and after bowing out in an Elimination Final, Mulgrave are looking to use their finals experience to go even further this time round in a tough competition.


With the side retaining most of their list Coach Matt Richards is confident and excited about this year.


Richards was enthused that Mulgrave’s veteran star Adam Booth “is going round again.”


Young gun Connor Tilyard is coming off a fantastic year with Richards noting that he has “put in a big pre-season” and Mulgrave is hoping his performances this year reflect his efforts.


Tilyard has already won 2 senior Best and Fairest’s despite his youth and is passionate about playing for Mulgrave recruiting “some of his mates to play for the club” as well as being “very quick to sign on” again for another season.


“He’s a really important, player, figure [and] leader around the club and we expect him to go on in a big way this year,” Richards said.


Midfielder Jackson Gervasoni suffered an ACL injury in Round 18 last year, however after putting a lot of work into their midfield during the pre-season coach Richards believes his side can overcome this loss.


Many players for Mulgrave hadn’t played finals before, bar a few exceptions such as Lin Jong’s two VFL Premierships and Fletcher Roberts’s 2016 AFL Premiership win with the Western Bulldogs.


“That whole buzz that the club gets and your local supporters get… that was huge for us,”


“To be able to have your leaders of the club get to enjoy that experience [finals] was massive,”


“They loved it and that’s what we want to continue to do.”


Richards recognises the competitiveness and tightness of the competition of Division Two with both Croydon and Lilydale dropping down from Division One.


“We know it’s going to be a really tough comp this year, with the two teams coming down with the double-relegation,”


“They’re going to want to go straight into playing finals [and] it’s a tight comp anyway.”


Despite the fierce nature of the competition, Mulgrave’s Coach remains positive about the upcoming season.


“This is my second year now, another year under my belt as a coach, that’ll help, I won’t have those first-year nerves or anything like that,”


“I’m leaning on our senior blokes that we’ve got around to change our pre-season up a bit, and add to areas we probably didn’t last year until the season got underway,”


“We feel we’re in a good position to start the season well, and that’s what we plan to do,”


“I’m loving it and I’m keen.”


Young Lions gun Connor Tilyard also spoke with ahead of the upcoming season, sharing his thoughts on Mulgrave’s 2024 season.


“I think I’m probably going to have to play a bit more inside-mid than I have previously,” Tilyard said.


This is due to an ACL injury suffered by Jackson Gervasoni.


“I know I’m capable of it, but it’s probably something I haven’t had to do too much at senior level,”


“Something different, so it’ll be a good challenge.”


Tilyard is conscious of his strengths and weaknesses and how he’ll use those to Mulgrave’s advantage in the upcoming year.


“I definitely want to put on a bit of size, get a little bit stronger but I think I don’t wanna shy too far from my strengths.”


Tilyard doesn’t want to diminish his key attributes of speed and agility as well as his ability to get out of a contest and run.


Mulgrave’s two-time Best and Fairest winner shares Matt Richard’s positive outlook on the coming season.


“Bailey Thompson has come back to the club, he’ll be a really good player for us,”


“He’ll be kind of like a hybrid, I think he’ll be like a half-forward, if not a key-forward but could probably go through the middle as well, Bailey’s definitely one to look out for,”


“Obviously you’ve got Lin and Fletch Roberts who are gonna tear the house down.”


Tilyard shared his expectations for this season with the EFNL.


“Definitely finals,”


“We’re definitely around it, there’s definitely some things that we’ve improved on so there’s no reason to say we can’t go all the way.”


Mulgrave Seniors are playing Waverley Blues Seniors at 2:20 PM on Saturday April 6th at Mulgrave Reserve for Round 1 2024.

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