Leeton-Whitton welcome back Ben Gaynor and Reece Maguire for premiership defence

WELCOME BACK: Ben Gaynor in action in the 2016 grand final against Wagga Tigers. Picture: Les Smith

WELCOME BACK: Ben Gaynor in action in the 2016 grand final against Wagga Tigers. Picture: Les Smith

Leeton-Whitton coach Jade Hodge says it is not all ‘doom and gloom’ as the Crows prepare for their Riverina League premiership defence.

Leeton-Whitton celebrated a famous drought-breaking premiership in September when they held on to defeat Collingullie-Glenfield Park by a goal.

That is now a distant memory as the Crows are back at training ready to begin their premiership defence.

It will be a new look Leeton-Whitton team when they take on the Demons and unfurl their premiership flag in round one.

Eight members of the Crows’ premiership team have moved on, headed by the return to Canberra of Toby Conroy, Neil Irwin, Liam Greenwell and Sean Wilkinson, along with the retirement of Ben Curley.

Hodge though is upbeat and said things are looking good at Leeton Showground.

Leeton-Whitton will welcome back Ben Gaynor and Reece Maguire after some time away and are confident of announcing more additions in coming weeks.

“It’s not all doom and gloom,” Hodge said.

“We’ve picked up a couple who have had a few years off.

“Benny Gaynor has come back after a year off and he was a starting midfielder for us a couple of years ago.

Reece Maguire will return to Leeton-Whitton after a few seasons away this year.

Reece Maguire will return to Leeton-Whitton after a few seasons away this year.

“We’ve also got Reece Maguire back and he’s going to be very handy for us. I’ve been working on getting him back playing for a couple of years now.”

Not only have Gaynor and Maguire returned, Hodge is confident of improvement from within the group.

He has been impressed by the pre-season of Josh Helson, who did not play first grade last year, while he also looks forward to unleashing Matt Rainbird into the midfield more often in 2018.

“We’ll be a lot fitter this year than what we were last year. We’ve had a solid pre-season,” Hodge said.

“We’ve got some really good young guys that didn’t get many games last year that are going to get some opportunities. There’s another couple of players we hope to get as well.

“It’s not all doom and gloom, we’re just a bit late on it. We would have liked to have been on it a bit earlier.

“I’m not worried at all, I’m really looking forward to it.”

Leeton-Whitton will have their first trial game against Lockhart on March 17. They will then take one of two Pennant Hills teams, alongside Narrandera, at Narrandera Sportsground on March 23.

The Crows will then host Collingullie-GP at Leeton Showground in the season opener on Saturday, April 21.

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