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Yarra Valley Water InFocus | North Ringwood

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By Josh Ward. 

North Ringwood’s senior men’s and women’s programs have back in their youth to continue their respective rise up the ranks in 2024.


Last year’s return to Division 1 was a successful one for the Saints men’s side, claiming their first finals victory in just under 10 years against Beaconsfield after a slow start to the season.


It’s been a much different start compared to last year for Robin Nahas’ men, thumping Bayswater away from home by 86 points while restricting them to just four goals.


“It was a great start for the club, we had 19s and reserves do the job and the senior team as well. As a footy club we’ve played three games and won three, it’s the first time in my coaching career at North Ringwood that we’ve started like that,” Nahas says.


While the experienced Nahas continues to pull on the boots alongside the likes of Michael Locco and Jack Whelan, the Saints senior lineup continues to have a young feel about it.


This past preseason has seen the younger group take much more ownership as well as looking at ways to improve their own performances.


“A large group of (the younger players) have had a strong preseason on their own back. They’ve sat there and gotten together outside of training hours to train and improve as a collective.”


The Saints have added to the young core with the signings of decorated VFL player Tom Wilson and tall Peter Rozanitis, with Wilson acquiring 32 disposals and Rozanitis kicking a goal in their opening round win.


Rozanitis comes across having previous experience with Mazenod OC in the Victorian Amateur Football Association while Collingwood VFL-listed player Wilson has put the Saints as his community club.


Nahas says despite the inclusions of Rozanitis and Wilson, the drive and improvement will continue to come from its youth.


“The maturity is coming from the young group starting to become men and starting to make adult decisions. If you look at our player points on the weekend, I don’t think there’d be a team in our comp that has 25 out of a possible 46 player points.”


While hopeful of bringing an attractive game style on a consistent basis, Nahas says his main goal as coach is to continue developing his group into young men.


“The outcome is the last thing I worry about, I did early on in my coaching career but I’ve learnt a lot in the past five years on what to do and what not to do. The main thing that myself and the coaching group is there to do is to guide these guys.”


The North Ringwood women’s side also come into 2024 off a similar season to the men’s side, making a second consecutive finals appearance in Division 1. This time around they fell at the hands of rivals Park Orchards by 27 points in the first week of finals.


This season is set to see Jake Ireland at the helm after previously coming on board as a senior assistant to inaugural women’s Julian Hansen in 2023. Ireland says he’s excited about taking over the head coaching role, with 2024 set to see three teams combine as one.


“There’s the original senior group, the Under 18s group that’ve come up and played their first year of senior footy in 2023, my sister’s in that group and I’ve coached them before,” Ireland says.


“And then there’s last year’s Under 18s that have come up and are ready to join the seniors. I was pretty involved with them last year, so it feels like three groups joining together.”


The added numbers from last year’s North Ringwood Under 18s has led to the creation of North Ringwood’s inaugural development team who are set to compete in Division 3 this year.


“We’ve had a few over 40 come over and then we started thinking that we’ve got a healthy number and that it’d probably be unfair to only have one side because a fair few girls would be missing out each week.”


The side is set to be coached by runner up Best and Fairest winner Rachel Iaucone while she continues her recovery from a foot injury.


“Her injury is devastating to us because she’s such a terrific player and a great leader…but she’s really taken to the coaching role and I know that she’s going to do such a good job.”


With most of the development side showing plenty of promise in preseason, Ireland expects the side to be competitive in Division 3 while the added depth in the Division 1 side will see his side be around the mark once again.


“Part of (why Boronia and The Basin were so strong) was because they had two sides and I felt like everyone played an important role.


“Obviously we are going to have the two teams so hopefully right down to the 20th player on our list is going to be a really big contributor, I think that will be the main difference.”

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