By Terry Wilson
New playing coach Adam Boon will have a settled playing squad when Mt Gravatt open the new QAFL season against Western Magpies on April 6 at Dittmer Park.
The Vulture have been able to retain a significant bulk of their playing roster from 2018, losing only Jordan Bain (to Springwood) and Rhys Estall (overseas) from their top-liners.
This represents a stability that should work for the Vultures as 150-game Redland veteran Boon prepares for his gig as new playing coach.
According to club official Rod Nuttall the Vultures have retained 20 of the 22 who were part of the team that lost the 2018 elimination final to Surfers Paradise.
This should be a key factor for Mt Gravatt in the club’s quest to climb into the top three for the first time in five seasons after finishes of fifth, fifth, fourth, seventh and fifth.
All of this means that Mt Gravatt have been in the picture but haven’t finished their seasons off.
It is a statistic Boon wants to turn around in his first coaching gig at senior level.
He landed at Dittmer Park after previous coaches Brad Pollock (2016), Troy Moncur (2017) and Daniel Webster (2018) all held the roles but had to leave for a number of personal reasons.
And it is interesting to note that Moncur, at more than 40 years of age, has been registered as a player.
Mt Gravatt teetered on the edge for much of the 2018 season, looking to be right up there with the premiership contenders but unable to break free to claim a top-three berth for the finals.
As it turned out the Vultures finished fifth for the play-offs but bowed out of the title race when they lost by 36 points to Surfers Paradise in the elimination final.
Boon played a handful of Mt Gravatt’s games when not needed for NEAFL duties with Redland and he believes not too much was missing that cost the Vultures a higher finish.
“From where I was looking on it was probably a bit of structure shift from early in the season,” he said.
“Late in the year, especially against Surfers Paradise, I think we allowed them too much build-up space.
“So now the focus has been working on our structures and our plans and how we want to move the ball.
“And we’re working on a lift in intensity on pressure around the ball.”
It is a huge bonus for Mt Gravatt to be able to retain the top six players on their 2018 best and fairest list.
They are Jayden Crawley, Joel Leahy, Frazer Neate, Mitch Hart, Andrew Smith and Mick Hamill.
And big forward Sam Stubbs has been signed to spearhead the attack once again.
Put Moncur alongside Stubbs and the Vultures will have plenty of size and marking power up front.
“That’s a huge bonus to have our top six in the best and fairest and recruit here and they’ve all been in good nick during the pre-season,” Boon said.
Two other newcomers are utility Robert Blood from Broadbeach, Jack Wratten (Coorparoo) and defender Robert Butler (Yeronga/South Brisbane).
And a very handy player in local product Brendan Telford will play full-time in the blue and white after being switched between NEAFL and QAFL in 2018.
Boon is an advocate of the old saying that if kids are good enough then they’re old enough and is anxious to look at the development of a number of up and comers on the club’s list.
The club has hopes for any number of local products to go on and become 100-game players for the club and this is something Boon would love to see.
Boon said the club has given chances to a number of talented youngsters who did exactly what was expected of them.
MT GRAVATT IN 2018
Played 17 (incl. one final). Won 10, lost seven.
Points for (regular season) 1318, points against 1277 (percentage 103.21). Finished fifth.
Best and fairest: Jayden Crawley.
Gains: Adam Boon (Redland), Robert Blood (Broadbeach), Jack Wratten (Coorparoo), Robert Butler (Yeronga/South Brisbane).
Losses: Rhys Estall (overseas), Jordan Bain (Springwood), Harry Taylor (work).