By Nick Creely
There will be no shortage of class and excitement at Woori Yallock next season.
And for the Tigers – who enjoyed an excellent 2019 season in the AFL Outer East’s Premier Division – 2021 can’t come quick enough.
It’s a chance for the club to build on its finals appearance in 2019 and continue playing an exciting brand of football, and to once again welcome back its sporting-loving community to Tigerland with open arms.
After going down in an elimination final to Cranbourne in 2019, to not taking the field in 2020 in what has been a really difficult year for community sport, recently re-signed Tigers coach Bryan ‘Jack’ Cole told the Gazette that his club is ready and raring to get back out there after putting a strong focus on a number of key areas.
“Anything in footy, you’ve got to take it as it comes,” he said.
“But we were really happy with what we had done in the pre-season this year, what we found is that the depth of the south-east is so much bigger, our reserves could hardly score against them, so we’ve really focused and concentrated on building our depth.
“We’ve realised where we are as a club – we weren’t that far away all year (2019), we were third basically all year and now Berwick’s gone.
“We didn’t kick well in the finals, but we actually played quite well and just kicked poorly. We had at least 60 per cent of the play in our forward half, so it’s something to build on.
“I really enjoy the new league, every week’s a challenge, and now we’ve had a good look at it, we’re keen to get on with the job.
“Woori has been a really strong club for a long time, but it’s time to raise the bar a fair bit more, so we want to rise to the challenge.”
Two of the club’s favourite sons have returned to Tigerland – star premiership ruckman Ryley Monkhorst after a successful stint with Balwyn, while Ben Monkhorst is also back at Woori after signing with South Croydon in 2020.
It’s an announcement sure to generate plenty of excitement out of the club and the league, as well as a few sleepless nights for opposition sides.
And Cole couldn’t be more delighted to see them return home at an exciting time for the club.
“It’s great that we’ve got them back, they’re names that are synonymous with the Woori Yallock Football Club,” he said.
“That’s been a big gain for us getting those two back.”
Also on the recruiting front, the Tigers have added Adam Miles from North Ringwood and Matt Robinson from Montrose, with Cole believing they will be a strong addition to the group.
“Robbo (Matt Robinson) only lives up the road so it’s great to have him on board, he’s really chirpy,” he said.
“He’s looking to play backline, but he could play as a small pressure forward – we’re looking to have him run it out of defence, and on those bigger grounds, you have to run, and keep running.
“Adam Miles comes recommended from Ryley (Monkhorst) – he’s a midfielder and played 13 senior games, three reserves, had an injury.
“Anyone that plays in Premier in Eastern footy league will slot in nicely at Woori Yallock and in the Outer East.”
The Tigers have also re-signed the majority of its playing list for 2021, including names such as Michael Batten, Jake Matthews, Robbie Allan and Hayden Smith, leaving the club well placed.
“It’s always great when your players want to sign on,” Cole said.
“The first thing you look at as coach is retaining your own players, they’re the ones that really love the club.
“And then you try and bring what you need into the environment, whether that’s a ruck or a midfielder, you go out and get it – I think that is the secret with local football.”
2019 was in many ways a learning experience for Yarra Valley clubs travelling down to the south-east, and the south-east clubs up to the Yarra Valley in what are at times different conditions, and Cole said that his group is better prepared for what’s to come in 2021.
“We’ll definitely be better prepared (in 2021),” he said.
“But I coached at Healesville before and it was a massive ground, so my game plan means I want to play on bigger grounds.
“I like to pick a side that can play on bigger grounds – when you get into finals, you need to pick a side that can really run, and I’ve got a big focus on that.
“We definitely learnt lessons, and so did they (the south-east clubs) I’m sure – they’ll find it easier coming up here next year.”