Werribee’s list for season 2020 has begun taking shape with more than half the 2019 playing group already locked in. Catch up on all the off-season signatures in the 2020 Re-Signing Hub.
Kicking off signing season was the skipper Michael Sodomaco who put pen to paper for a 10th season at Avalon Airport Oval shortly after the club’s brave semi-final exit.
Sodomaco, 28, missed six games during season 2019 due to a hamstring injury, but when he did get on the park, his leadership and trademark dash off half-back were pivotal. He’ll join a select group in 2020 when he plays his 100th VFL club game, potentially as early as round three.
Exciting young utility Jack Henderson signed on for a third season in the Black & Gold, following a 2019 campaign that brought about a fruitful role change and yielded VFL recognition.
The Geelong Falcon product impressed as a lockdown defender in his debut year in 2018, but under Mark Williams, was used predominantly at the other end, as a dynamic forward.
The teenager played every game, kicked 23 goals including a season-high four in round one, averaged 4.3 tackles a game, finished equal fifth in the Club’s best & fairest and was named on the bench in the VFL Team of the Year.
Like Henderson, Kye Declase will enter his third season at Werribee in 2020 after 11 senior games across three seasons with the Northern Blues.
2019 proved to be a breakout campaign for the 23-year-old who excelled as a versatile option for ‘Choco’ Williams in all parts of the ground. He booted 20 goals from 18 appearances, averaged five marks a game and was named Most Improved at the Club’s awards night.
In a major boost for 2020, this integral quartet was quick to re-commit following stellar individual seasons.
Prolific midfielder Tom Gribble capped off a career-best year with a swag of accolades, including the coveted J.J Liston and Bruce Montgomery Trophies, as well as VFL Team of the Year selection.
The popular No.4 will enter his eighth VFL season with 93 games to his name, 89 of them in Werribee colours.
Injuries have interrupted triple best & fairest winner Matt Hanson’s last two years at Avalon Airport Oval but his influence on and off the field hasn’t wavered.
The bullocking midfielder and vice-captain averaged 22.4 disposals and 5.3 tackles across his 14 appearances in 2019 and proved his worth in big games, performing strongly in the finals despite missing the previous six weeks.
Nick Coughlan emerged as a weapon at both ends of the ground in 2019, with the former St Kilda rookie elevating his game to new heights under Mark Williams.
The leadership group member played all 20 games, averaged 15.4 disposals, five marks and proved a dead-eye when swung forward, booting 12.1.
Coughlan was named at centre half-back in the VFL Team of the Year, took out the Players Player Award and finished on the podium (3rd) in the Club’s best & fairest.
Bior Malual made quite the first impression, winning the pre-season time trial in a canter.
The EDFL star developed at a rate of knots at VFL level and turned heads with his elite athletic traits and impressive footy IQ.
After starting the season close to goal, Malual moved further up the ground onto a wing. He played all bar one game and kicked 19 goals including a career-high four in a clinical display against Coburg.
The Sudanese star was one of three Werribee players invited to test at the Victorian State & Rookie Me Combines and he didn’t disappoint, winning both the agility and yo-yo tests.
This next batch of re-signings saw the club sure-up all parts of the ground, headlined by the signature of Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medalist Jake Riccardi.
The teenage spearhead proved a revelation in his first season since graduating from the Calder Cannons’ NAB League program, finishing second in the VFL goalkicking with 38 majors with his most productive outing, a bag of six against Coburg.
Riccardi’s stellar debut VFL campaign rightly earned him the nod at centre half-forward in the Team of the Year, an invitation to the State Combine and plenty of AFL interest.
Former Gold Coast Sun Max Spencer settled in seamlessly in the Black & Gold, swiftly becoming a vital cog in one of the VFL’s strongest defensive units.
The 22-year-old played every game and finished inside the top five in the league for marks.
2020 will be consistent midfielder Joe Maishman’s sixth season at Werribee. The 23-year-old has developed into a versatile and dependable player with more than 70 VFL games of experience to his name.
Maishman took on a more senior role in the engine room in 2019, averaging 18.4 disposals, 5.1 tackles and to go with 11 goals across all 20 games.
Damaging dasher Dane McFarlane will lace up for another VFL season, with 100 senior games well and truly in his sights.
The 26-year-old started the 2019 season in sizzling form and went on to average 17.2 disposals and 4.4 marks in eighteen games.
This exciting first-year trio all got a taste of it and are well-placed to see regular action in season 2020.
Crossing from Essendon’s VFL program, Alex Marklew was a strong pre-season performer, but due to injury he had to wait until round 13 to make his Werribee debut, ironically against his former side.
The athletic forward went on to play six consecutive games which yielded five goals, however his season was cut short by an ankle injury which required surgery.
Silky utility Baxter Norton joined fellow Taswegian Matt Hanson at Werribee in 2019 and was quick to make his mark. The 20-year-old left-footer debuted in round one and played a further four games.
Notably, Norton was also heavily involved off-field with his efforts recognised with the Community Development Award.
A prolific goalkicker at NAB League level for the Murray Bushrangers, Hudson Garoni broke through for two VFL matches late in the season and showed promising signs.
Still a teenager, Garoni is an imposing figure at at 195cm and 97kg and with experience in the AFL’s Academy and for Vic Country, 2020 looms as another exciting year of development under ‘Choco’ Williams.
Werribee’s tall timber stocks were given a significant boost with promising young duo Darcy Bennett and Tylar Watts agreeing to extend their stay at Chirnside Park.
Bennett, a 203cm Lara local who hails from a basketball background, played eight games in his debut year as a backup ruckman, but came into his own during the finals, including the semi against Essendon where he amassed 33 hitouts and 12 disposals in tough conditions.
Portland product Tylar Watts impressed in three consecutive senior appearances late in the season, particularly on debut, where he laid nine tackles and pinch-hit in the ruck.
Two more exciting prospects put pen to paper for 2020 following promising debut seasons in the Black & Gold.
Hard-running midfielder Aiden Domic featured at senior level on five occasions, and was dominant during the AFL Victoria Young Guns Series and for Bell Park, earning him the Local Player Award.
Athletic forward Tom Boyd also got a taste of VFL action, playing four consecutive matches in the first half of the season.
The 20-year-old Murray Bushranger product came to Werribee with state league experience having played for UWS Giants in the 2018 NEAFL season. He performed strongly for Goulburn Valley FL club Shepparton, booting 22 goals in 16 outings.
One of the final signings of Werribee’s 2019 pre-season recruiting campaign, Ryan Kemp proved to be a revelation as a pressure small forward.
Fresh off an extraordinary year with Horsham in the Wimmera FL, Kemp burst onto the VFL scene with three goals on debut and went on to play 13 games and kick 11 goals, including two in the club’s narrow semi-final defeat.
Matt Munro produced his finest season yet in 2019, finishing his fifth year at Avalon Airport as arguably the best pressure small forward in the VFL.
The 24-year-old Albury product averaged four tackles a game and booted an accurate 25.11 including a career-best bag of five in round 12 against Williamstown.
A leadership group member and popular character around the club, Munro's tackling pressure and one percenters were a highlight of his breakout VFL campaign.
Dan Nielson returned to Werribee in 2019 and quickly solidified himself as one of the premier key backmen in the VFL.
The rock of Werribee’s back six, Nielson’s unwavering courage, competitiveness and team-first approach saw him restrict the competition’s best key forwards on a regular basis.
His consistent 2019 campaign was rewarded with a top seven finish in the club’s Best & Fairest.
Ryan Hebron made a seamless transition into the VFL, after a productive three-year stint with Sydney University in the NEAFL.
The versatile defender played every game during Werribee’s 2019 campaign, impressing with his ability to defend strongly against all types of forwards, as well as intercept (#2 in VFL for marks) and rebound.
He finished inside the top ten of Werribee’s Best & Fairest, and trained with Sydney in the lead up to the AFL drafts.
SIGNED FOR 2020