Lockhart co-coach Jake Phillips confident of a return to Hume League finals in 2018

MOVING FORWARD: Lockhart president Rex Sheather and co-coach Jake Phillips. Picture: Laura Hardwick
MOVING FORWARD: Lockhart president Rex Sheather and co-coach Jake Phillips. Picture: Laura Hardwick

LOCKHART co-coach Jake Phillips is confident a return to the Hume League finals is a realistic goal for his team next year.

The Demons’ recruiting campaign got off to a strong start last week when they lured Mitch Sykes and Andrew Emery back to the club from Turvey Park.

Sykes returned home to Turvey Park last year to coach the club and steered the Bulldogs to seventh place, their best finish in years.

Emery also returned to the Bulldogs for a season and showed plenty of promise in a year spent switching between attack and defence.

The return of Sykes, Emery, Oscar Haberecht and Dean Hannon has put a spring in the step at Lockhart and Phillips is keen to lead the club back to finals football.

“We want to get ourselves back into finals,” Phillips said.

“The way we finished the year, winning five of our last 10 built a platform and now it’s about taking that next step.

“We’ve got everything off field right, the culture and all of that, now we want to get back to playing finals.”

Along with four returning players, Lockhart is excited about promoting the club’s under 17s players and developing them into senior footballers.

“We’re still going to be a pretty young side but we’ve blooded a few this year and they are going to be better for it, with a bit more experience,” he said.

“Even with our under 17 team and them making the grand final this year, that’s going to help.

“Everyone from this year has re-signed, which is good, so we’ve built the platform and added extra numbers in and taken that next step forward.”

Lockhart are still in talks with a handful of players, including two key forwards, and hope to secure their signatures soon.

Phillips’ early plans are to play Emery at centre-half-back and Sykes on a half-back flank.

Sykes returns as assistant coach, while Jordan Harrington has stepped up to co-coach alongside Phillips.

Lockhart start pre-season training on November 24.