Cheltenham will hit Southern airwaves with what it’s promoting as a Triple M of recruits this year.
Former VFL players Sean McLaren, Jarrad Matheson and Will McTaggart have joined the Rosellas, putting them in good shape a few weeks out from the season.
Key position player and ruckman McLaren was drafted by Sydney as a rookie from the Sandringham Dragons and spent 2015 with the Swans.
He joined Sandringham VFL last year.
Matheson, a left-foot midfielder and small forward, was at Port Melbourne last year, having previously had VFL stints at Casey Scorpions and Frankston.
He also had a stop at Eastern power Balwyn.
McTaggart, another tall, also played in the VFL, at Port Melbourne and Sandringham.
In another boost for the Rosellas, Tom Donnell has returned after two years away from the club,
Jarryd Bloink is back from a knee injury, and Old Haileybury top-liner Daniel Harrison, Beaumaris flanker Richard Ryan, Balwyn small forward/Ange Soldatos and Oakleigh District wingman Liam Boschen have signed.
Young and vibrant, Cheltenham finished with seven wins, 10 losses and one draw last season under former Richmond player and Frankston VFL captain Des Ryan.
“We needed to inject talented big bodied on-ballers and height into our 2017 list,’’ Ryan told Leader.
“We established great standards and culture in 2016, built on hard work and the leadership of skipper Jack Worrell with largely a group of players who were all local players.
“We are only concerned with recruiting good people with good behaviours to our club and people who will help us make Cheltenham a great club. Our focus in 2016 was to coach a brand of footy that would see us become a competitive unit. Now we want to go to the next stage and be a finals contender.
“We wanted to maintain a ‘local’ recruitment strategy and develop a pathway for Cheltenham Panthers juniors to join Cheltenham as a club of choice. Most of our recruits are from bayside suburbs and clubs.’’
Ryan said the Rosellas were entering the second year of a three-year plan and would focus on the development of their Under 19 players. The influx of recruits would fast-track their improvement.
Ryan has brought in his brother and fellow ex-Tiger Stevie as an assistant coach.
Steve Ryan coached St Bedes Mentone Tigers to the VAFA Premier B grand final last year but was surprisingly let go.
Off the field, Cheltenham has a new president in John Graham, who succeeds the great Col Anderson, and announced Carlisle Homes as its new major sponsor.
DES RYAN ON CHELT’S RECRUITS
Sean McLaren: 21-year-old Beaumaris resident who is mates with half our club. Recruited from Sandringham, Sean was rookied by Sydney Swans but he found it difficult to get promoted to the senior list with Franklin and Tippet. He leaves nothing in the tank when he plays and his competitive spirit and athleticism are exciting qualities for our club.
Will McTaggart: 25, lives locally in Hampton, recruited from Sandringham. Will is a big bodied defender/midfielder with a penetrating leg. Has speed and power and a good tank. I’ve been really excited by the way Will has attacked his pre-season. He is a real package and has set a standard on the track from the first session.
Jarrod Matheson: he’s 27 and comes from Port Melbourne. Tremendous contested ball player with an ability to kick bags of goals. Has a bull physique and will help teach our group of young boys coming through — 2016 rookie of the year Mitch Daniels, Jake Hibbert, Jax and Nick Kilner — the game craft required for senior football.
Richard Ryan: 22, lives in Cheltenham and was a Chelt Panthers junior. Recruited from Beaumaris AFC, where he played senior and reserve football in 2016. He’s a utility who will play forward/back and ruck for us in 2017. A real solid citizen, Richie has fitted in extremely well.
Ange Soldatos: a 25-year-old midfielder/small forward recruited from Balwyn. Ange lives locally and is best mates with Cheltenham’s 2014 best and fairest Chris Neophitou. A great leader and trainer, Ange will give us much-needed small forward class.
Daniel Harrison: 25 years old, lives at Hampton and is a 195cm wingman/defender. Recruited from Haileybury, Daniel is highly mobile and skilful player who covers the ground well for a tall. He’ll play in a number of positions for us, giving us added flexibility.