Sandringham Dragons 2016 season preview
After a lean 2015 season, the Dragons boast a group packed with top-end talent and hold high hopes for a successful 2016.
Coach: Jeremy Barnard (second year)
Talent Manager: Ryan O’Connor
2015 finish: 9th
2015 AFL draftees: Harley Balic (pick no.38, Fremantle)
2016 AFL Academy members: Level Two – Jack Scrimshaw, Will Setterfield
Last premiership: 2011
The Dragons missed last year’s finals on percentage behind the eighth-placed Calder Cannons. They showed they could mix it with the best though, knocking off eventual grand finalists the Oakleigh Chargers by 19 points in Round 4 and the Eastern Ranges by five points in Round 18.
Talent Manager Ryan O’Connor predicted a rise up the ladder in 2016 though, with a group hungry for success after a difficult 2015 season. “The best thing for us is – after what we would term an uncompetitive year – we look to have a really deep and stronger list,” O’Connor said. “It was pretty lean last year and I think that’s whetted the group’s appetite.”
The club boasts a handful of players in draft contention this year, led by tall midfield prospects Jack Scrimshaw and Will Setterfield. Scrimshaw is currently trying to overcome a hot spot in his foot, but Setterfield is healthy again after an injury-interrupted bottom-age season and, according to O’Connor, is “improving every time we see him at training”.
O’Connor also said versatile midfielders Andrew McGrath and Tim Taranto were “tracking equally as well as Jack and Will”, while smaller midfielders Cameron Polson and Corey Lyons – brother of Adelaide AFL player Jarryd – provided something different to Sandringham’s on-ball mix. Club captain Hamish Brayshaw – brother of Melbourne young gun Angus – will add further grunt in the clinches and O’Connor likened Oliver Florent to smooth-moving GWS midfielder Josh Kelly if he could improve his consistency of performance.
Goy Lok is the biggest name back at the club as an over-age player. “He was in draft contention last year but I think clubs wanted him to expand his game,” O’Connor said of Lok. “They saw he was probably a bit too inside and he needed to get outside and run and carry a bit.” Tom Cameron, Darcy James and Hugh Johnson join Lok at the club as 19-year-olds for 2016.
The Dragons open their season on Saturday March 26 against the Northern Knights at Ikon Park.
* Photo: Corey Lyons fires off a handball for the Sandringham Dragons in 2015
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