Lions continue to build

Jack Burns (Ljubica Vrankovic) 347357_30

Tara Murray

Taylors Lakes has added a bit more depth as it seeks to take further steps in the Essendon District Football League division 2 competition.

The Lions returned to finals last season and suffered heartbreak on preliminary final day, falling just short of a grand final appearance.

Lions coach Steve Burns said the group had moved on and were now focused on the season ahead.

“I’m pretty happy with the list we have and we haven’t overly recruited,” he said. “We’ve had a couple that have fallen into laps.

“We’ve plugged a few holes after having some players who have retired. We’re happy with our youth and we’ve retained 95 per cent of the list which is great.”

Burns said they would have seven recruits pushing to play seniors, while there’s a couple of players returning from injury that will strengthen their squad.

Ben Weightman, who is coming off back surgery, will play full forward and comes highly regarded.

Brandon Radd has joined the club looking for more senior opportunities in the ruck, while Keilor Park premiership player Vincent Schiavello will add height down back.

Connor Roach, Declan Wakefield, Shaun Ujcich have joined the club from North Footscray, while Ben Spargo and Lachlan McMullin return to the Lions from Keilor.

Yanni Apostolidis, who crosses from Caroline Springs, will provide some ruck depth as well.

Darby Lalor returns after an ACL injury, while Luke Napoli is the fittest he had been in a long time.

The Lions then added Lachlan Rayner to their squad this week.

Rayner has played for East Keilor and played in the Victorian Football League.

Burns said they needed to add some more height to the squad.

“We added Jake Toa at the end of the year and we were much better with him in the side,” he said.

“We were pleased to add a variety of talls to the squad.”

Burns said they had tweaked the game plan slightly this season, but having kept the core group together makes things a lot easier.

“There hasn’t been a lot of teaching the players,” he said. ‘The new players have got on board and everyone has come in good condition.

“It’s the fittest I’ve ever seen.”

While many are pegging the Lions as one of the favourites this season, Burns said it was a wide open competition that would be closer than last season and they weren’t getting ahead of themselves.

He said every side has recruited well and is capable of beating anyone on their day.

The Lions start their season on April 13 against the Sunbury Kangaroos, who beat them in the preliminary final.

Burns said they were hoping to get off to a good start.

“It would be nice to win at home,” he said. “We’re expecting a hard, physical game and hopefully we play well and put our best foot forward.”