New Sunbury Lions coach Matthew White is finding being back at Clarke Oval both exciting and weird.
White played at the Ballarat Football League club as a junior before going on to have an AFL career, with both Richmond and Port Adelaide.
Now with a few months back at the Lions and in the senior coaching role, White said he was getting used to being back at the club.
“It has been weird,” he said. “It’s great to be back around everyone, but it’s a bit weird and things are different.
“One fellow, I could remember his face, but I could not figure out his name, He was an old teammates old man who I hadn’t seen for 20 years
“There’s lots of familiar faces and the club has changed for the better. The ground is in much better condition now, it’s fantastic.”
The playing group has already returned to the track for the second half of pre-season, earlier than most other teams.
White admits he’s a bit antsy to get out there and coach.
“It’s been really good and there’s a lot of guys who have a new lease of life,” he said.
“There’s some reserves players, who have been that for a long time. I’ve pretty much said ‘everyone has a clean bill and if you want to play senior football, you have to put your best foot forward’.”
The Lions have announced three new signings so far, with White saying there’s still a few more to be announced in the coming weeks.
Jordan Tentonello has crossed from Rupertswood, while Ben Eales joins the club from Gisborne where he won a premiership.
Dean Muir, who has been playing with East Keilor, returns to his home club where he played before going to the Cougars.
White said they had signed everyone that they needed to sign. Pleasingly for him, there’s plenty of young talent at the club ready to step up as well.
“In the under-19s, there’s three or four that are ready to play senior footy. There’s another 10 that can play senior football if we need them to step up.”
Between now and the start of the season, White said they would continue to have fun on the track and they will start stepping up their preparation.
The Lions kick off their season on April 13 against Redan on the road in the battle of the Lions.
“It’ll be pretty solid before we start to ramp up before we face Keilor on March 9 at Highgate [in a practice match],” he said.
“We’ll dial back the running component and try to do as much ball work. We’ll ramp up the crashing of bodies until we play against some opposition.”