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    Jacob O’Beirne in action for the Saints last season.

2024 WFNL COUNTDOWN: Early preseason sets pace for Horsham Saints

By Lauren Henry

An early start to the pre-season for a core group of Horsham Saints could be the secret ingredient to cementing themselves as a top Wimmera league team this year.

After finishing second on the ladder in 2023, but getting knocked out in the preliminary final, the Saints are again aiming for finals.

Horsham Saints senior coach Ben Knott said a group of about 12 senior players had used their initiative to get an early start on season 2024.

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After a heavy 110-point thumping by Ararat in the preliminary final, the young group of Saints players were quick to start on a trail of redemption.

“Most of them have hit the ground running, which is pleasing,” Knott said.

“We’re a really young group so I’m expecting all of them to take a step up.

“There’s been that group of 10 or 12 who have taken the initiative to start training early.”

The coach said the Saints had played two practice matches during the pre-season – one against Springbank from Central Highlands Football League, and another against Kalkee.

“We’ve tried to tweak a few things in terms of how we’re going to structure up, but we got what we needed out of it, which was good,” he said.

The Saints welcome five new recruits to the seniors this season – Nathan Koenig from Natimuk; Alex McRae, Kalkee; Corey Morgan, Minyip-Murtoa; Bailey Taylor, Stawell; and Freddy Frew, Pimpinio. 

But it’s not all smooth sailing, with three players on the move from last season’s team – Daniel Rees, overseas; Will Brennan, Warrnambool; and Jarrod Garth, Geelong.

Knott said he saw his team’s strengths as similar to last year, but taking that extra step as the playing group matured.

“We’ll basically give the young group a little bit of freedom offensively to play the game, and run and carry will be our go,” he said.

“Hopefully we can get the ball forward as quick as we can.”

But there is no doubt finals are on the minds of the Saints’ footballers.

“We’re under no illusions of how close the competition is going to be. There’s a couple of teams who didn’t play finals last year that look like they’ve really improved,” he said.

“The main goal is to be at your best at the end of the year to play finals.”

Horsham Saints take on Stawell in round one at Coughlin Park on Saturday.

Knott said he watched the Warriors’ win against reigning premier Ararat on Good Friday.

“They moved the ball well – with a lot of confidence and that can happen when you get a few good recruits,” he said.

“The game itself, especially early in the piece, I reckon I saw a handful of smothers and a few tackles, which shows intent. 

“Both teams were playing with a lot of intent and a lot of purpose. So you’ve got to be ready to take on anything.”



Seniors: Ben Knott

Reserves: Matt Combe

Under-17s: Gage Wright

Under-14s: Peter Kafegellis

Under-12s: Heath Watson

Under-9s: To be confirmed

The entire April 17, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!