22 DAYS TO GO | EFL Media will be previewing each club ahead of the 2019 season with the #InFocus2019 series, all thanks to Yarra Valley Water & Choose Tap.
By: Daniel Cencic
TEMPLESTOWE senior coach Craig De Corsey is keen to pick up where his side left off last season.
The Dockers lost significant experience ahead of its 2018 campaign but persisted with a young group which took the club to 11 wins and seven losses, missing the Division 3 finals by percentage after Heathmont.
De Corsey addresses his side last season. PHOTO: Davis Harrigan Photography
“Everyone surprised us in the end,” De Corsey said.
“A lot of these guys hadn’t played senior footy before or very little anyway.
“They were still getting a feel for senior footy and I was reasonably confident with what I saw last year that a lot of them would adapt to it.
“By the end of the year, we were really competitive with the top five.”
Returning to the club is 34-year-old Chris Davies, last playing for the Dockers in 2014 before a recent stint with Forest Hill. Davies spent 2018 in the Essendon District league, playing 11 senior matches with Jacana in Division 1.
Meanwhile, Sam De Soysa has crossed over from Balwyn after a long lay-off with injury.
The 23-year-old last played in 2017 when he appeared on three occasions for Balwyn along with 18 appearances for Port Melbourne in the now-defunct VFL Development League.
“He (Davies) has just come back to basically play his last year or two with us again and dip his toe in the water with a bit of coaching and development as well and he’ll play an important part in that aspect as an experienced player,” De Corsey said.
“Sam’s missed a season and a half of footy with a couple of knee reconstructions so he’s slowly getting back into full training.
“He’s missed a lot of football in the last couple of seasons but more for him it’s about getting confidence in his body to play again – he’s completed probably half of pre-season so far so everything’s positive.”
Midfielder Tim Stewart and key back Patrick Wilson have relocated from Western Australia for work purposes and round out the recruits at Porter Street.
Stewart joins the club after a two-year stint with Upper Great Southern league club Katanning Wanderers, after five seasons on South Fremantle’s list in the WAFL. Wilson joins the Dockers from University in the Perth Football League.
De Corsey highlighted 19-year-old Luke Fitzsimons as one to watch this year, who featured in four senior matches in 2018 but played under-19s predominantly.
“I think he’s a 200-game player for the footy club – he’s a natural footballer (and) can read the ball really well. I’d expect him to play mostly senior footy for us this year,” he said.
The club has retained the majority of its list heading into 2019.
“That was always the main aim – we’ve got a really good core young list of players who are pretty much Templestowe boys,” De Corsey said.
“They’re pretty keen in trying to take the club to the next step.
“They’ve all signed on and they’re on-board which is great (and) they’re a really close bunch of boys.
“We’re hopeful we can keep this list for a long time together.”
The Dockers will compete in the newly-formed Division 2 this season under the EFL’s restructure, in which De Corsey believes will be an even competition.
“I’d be silly to say ‘I think we’re going to land here’,” he said.
“We’ve got to make up a few points on the top couple, that’s for sure and we’re confident we have over the pre-season.
“I just think it’s going to be a really competitive division – I don’t know where we’ll fit – hopefully it’s in the top three or four.”
Meanwhile, Templestowe is set to field its inaugural senior women’s team in the Eastern Region Women’s competition this season.
The Dockers’ first foray into senior women’s footy has been spearheaded by club identities Nicole Muleta and Vickie Parris and has seen up to 26 players on the track this pre-season.
The side will be coached by current player Sam Noble, alongside Jesse Wilson as assistant.
Templestowe is also set to host the Eastern Region Women’s Lightning Cup on the weekend of March 30-31, with over 20 teams expected in attendance.
Templestowe takes on Ringwood at Jubilee Park in Round 1 on Saturday, April 6, with the senior women’s fixture to be released at a later date.