By Lance Jenkinson
Werribee Districts will take centre stage when the Western Region Football League launches its 2020 season.
The Tigers will face off with Spotswood in a blockbuster division 1 season opener under lights at Downer Oval in Williamstown on April 3.
The rest of the opening round games will take place a day later. Tigers coach Chris Gilham is thrilled that his club will get the chance to feature in the showpiece event.
“It’s a good opportunity to showcase our footy club and the league in a standalone game,” he said.
“We’re rapt that we’ve got the opportunity to play it, especially against Spotty, who are a big club. “It’s a very important night for us, so we’re looking forward to it.”
If recent matches between the two sides are an indication, the season opener should be a humdinger between Werribee Districts and Spotswood.
In the finals last year, Spotswood was victorious by four points, despite having six less scoring shots.
Werribee Districts won both of the home-and-away meetings by a kick or less.
With both teams tipped to be in the mix for the finals, it will be a crucial game for both teams to lay down a marker for the season ahead.
“They’ve been pretty tight encounters every time we’ve played them lately, so it should be a pretty good game,” Gilham said.
“They knocked us out of the finals last year by a couple of points and we had three games against them and they were all decided by under a goal.”
In the Saturday games, Deer Park will take on growing rivals Caroline Springs at John McLeod Oval, Point Cook will test newly promoted Yarraville-Seddon at Saltwater Reserve, Hoppers Crossing will entertain Sunshine Kangaroos at Hogans Road Reserve and Altona will host St Albans in a twilight fixture at JK Grant Reserve.
Werribee Districts have not been too active in the player transfer market.
First and foremost, the Tigers want to encourage home grown players to take up important roles in the senior team.
With such a strong junior base, the Tigers need to keep their pathways relatively clear for their own move up the ranks and avoid having to seek opportunities elsewhere.
“The first port of call is to just try and retain your list,” Gilham said.
“We haven’t been overly active in terms of recruiting, we just want to make sure that our juniors have got plenty of opportunities. “We want to create a pathway for our kids, so it will be a very young team for us this year.
“We’ll make sure the good kids in the 18 to 23 age block get some good opportunities.”
Sean Gregory is the headline recruit for Werribee Districts. A key defender, Gregory spent time on Essendon’s AFL list and arrives via VFL club Williamstown.
Lucas Rocci has also committed to play with Werribee Districts when he is not required at VFL level with Werribee.
Meanwhile, the WRFL has launched a new thirds competition.
Albanvale, Altona, Braybrook, Caroline Springs, Point Cook and Wyndham Suns will take part in the inaugural season, which will run for 10 rounds and be a 16-a-side (18 permitted on the ground if agreed by both teams) format that will start the week after Easter.