Lions captain Jason Cole said while his team is still a bit of an unknown he is looking forward to showing off their new brand of ‘‘exciting’’ football against Benalla this weekend.
This uncertainty stems from the fact Seymour could well have 12 new faces in the seniors come round one, along with a new coach in Nick Jewell.
The Lions farewelled 2017 club best and fairest Harry Wheeler and former playing coach Brent Colbert, along with the likes of Andrew Sturgess, Brent Ryan, Saad Saad, Alex Hay, Brandyn Grenfell, Brett Meredith, Hugh Robertson and, most recently, James Falcone.
Adding to this, Jordan Hockley was recently cut down with a season-ending ACL injury after slipping on a poorly maintained oval in the first quarter of the Lion’s practice match in Bendigo against Golden Square.
But these disruptions have not sent the club into disarray. Instead, the Lions gained the services of a raft of new players and of Jewell, who played an AFL game for Richmond in 1997 and scored more than 4000 first-class runs for Victoria.
Jewell comes to the Lions from the Mornington Peninsula Nepean Football League, where he coached two premiership winning sides — Sorrento in 2017 and Rosebud in 2015. And he has, according to Cole, already stamped his mark on the Lions side.
‘‘I think we’ve definitely changed it a bit from last year,’’ Cole said.
‘‘Nick’s been great — he’s really big on defensive pressure ... we’re going to play a quick style of footy this year, which is always exciting and fun to play. So that’s probably the best thing, because when you’re playing footy that you enjoy, it’s always good.’’
While the Lions captain recognises there will be a difficult transition period as the new crop of players come together, he is also relishing the opportunity to be a part of the change.
‘‘I think early on it’s going to be challenging, as we have had a big turnover of players, but I think it’s also a pretty exciting time for the club,’’ Cole said.
‘‘Luckily we’ve had a lot of good youth coming through and we’ve picked up some good players as well, so it’s always a bit of an unknown this time of year in terms of where we’re going to be ... but I’m looking forward to seeing where we’re at in round one against Benalla.
‘‘I think everyone is trying to mimic what Richmond did last year and what the Dogs did before, it’s that same type of manic pressure ... we don’t have a really tall side, so we’ve got to go with that sort of plan.’’
Joining Cole in Seymour’s leadership team this season will be goal-kicking midfielder Ben Clifton and born-again defender Dylan Scopel, with the Lions skipper saying the three have a strong bond together.
‘‘We’ve played together the last few years and I’ve known Benny all my life — he’s a great leader and Dylan as well always leads from the front,’’ Cole said.
‘‘All three of us will lead as a team. You tend to spend a bit more time focusing on other people than yourself...but other than that [captaincy] shouldn’t affect how you go about your own footy.’’
And Cole, who has played 121 senior games for the Lions, said he felt the time was right to start really giving back some football nous to the club that fostered his own growth as a player.
‘‘You should try to help the younger players develop as you get older,’’ he said.
‘‘I think that’s something I was really lucky to have with the Scanlons and those guys going through — they were always happy to have a chat and teach you the game, so I think that’s important to do for the next generation.
‘‘I sort of idolised ‘Chewy’ (Paul Scanlon) as I was growing up. He was always the toughest and fiercest player in the GV League when I was a teenager and I always loved watching him play and loved trying to mimic the way he played.’’