Lions’ recruiting drive yields seven fresh faces

Roger Allen is switching from the Sunbury Kangaroos to Sunbury Lions. Picture Shawn Smits

Sunbury Lions football coach Rick Horwood hopes the club’s players and supporters are about to be rewarded for their patience over the past two seasons.

While the Lions have made the finals in both seasons, they have focused heavily on introducing youth to the side instead of looking for outside players to fill gaps.

Now, with a solid senior experience base beneath it, the club is seeking to add depth.

Last week the Lions announced seven new signings, headed by former Gold Coast Suns AFL player Alik Magin.

The club recruited players for certain roles, with several already having links to the Lions.

“Our list manager, Chris MacDonough, has been massive and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without him,” Horwood said. “He’s worked tirelessly to get all these players.

“Alik was the big signing, and once we gained access to him it led to Grant Valles [former VFL player with Sandringham, Bendigo and Frankston] coming on board because they’re friends.

“Joey Redfern, who has been playing VFL for Werribee, contacted us and signed with us as his home club.

“Jesse McInneny spoke to us last year and now he’s back in Melbourne; he’s signed on. And we spoke to his brother, Ben, who was vice-captain of Sunshine, and he’s agreed to come across, too.”

The other signings are Chris Tsardakis and Roger Allen, while Port Melbourne VFL player Daniel Toman will call Sunbury his home club for a third straight year.

“It’s exciting for the young group and the supporters,” Horwood said. “We identified what we needed and we hope this can make us more competitive against the stronger clubs.The most pleasing thing is for the supporters, who… will now see the benefits. There’s a buzz around the place.”

Horwood said many of the players recruited were in the 22-25 age bracket and had potential to be at the club for many years. “Joey, Ben, Grant and Alik have played at a good level and have played seniors longer than our younger players. We’re pretty excited but not getting carried away.”

The Lions coach said almost all the 2015 list had re-signed for next year. “Ben Said has followed Jamie Elliott over to Riddell, where he will be coaching next season. He has our blessing,” Horwood said. “Our Calder Cannons boys, Mitch Conn, Dylan Tarczon and Jayden Eales, are all doing preseasons with VFL clubs.”

The Lions start training on November 9