A top five finish in the 2018 South West Football League is firmly in the sights of Busselton Football Club league coach Steve Lester and captain Aidan Fraser.
After finishing ninth in the 2017 season, the Magpies are back training with a vengeance at Sir Stewart Bovell Oval.
The squad welcomed back high profile players Mason Hislop and Jon Meadmore, who had been donning the red and white for South Bunbury the past two seasons.
The pair were part of the Magpies 2015 premiership team.
Lester said the return of Hislop and Meadmore added to the overall playing depth of the club, which had increased through several returners and 10 new faces.
Lester said building a stronger culture with local players was the club’s overall focus.
“Of course we are looking to improve and I think we will but then again every other team is wanting to improve too,” he said.
“Our game style came together towards the back half of the year and probably just needed a few key personnel, which we are in the process of addressing now, getting some taller guys, something we didn't have last year to help out in key areas, like ruck and up forward. There are a couple of pieces to put together but we are nearly there.
“We will always need to bring players in but, unlike some of the other clubs, we’ve had a lot less imports over the last couple of years. For us, strength comes from unity within the group.”
Fraser said if pre-season training was any indication, there was no reason the club couldn’t crack the top half of the ladder.
“Pre-season training is going really well,” he said.
“We have seen really good numbers.
“There have been more than 60 players turning up across League, Reserves and Colts so 2018 is looking really good.”
In the women’s league, the Magpies female outfit also hopes to rise up the leader board.
Assistant coach Tayla Pillage said the second season was already shaping up nicely.
“The improvement over the season last year was amazing,” she said.
“We improved in all areas, running, kicking, accuracy – we went from scoring one point to getting four goals and hitting targets on the run.
“This year, we’ve already seen improvements since we started training in January. This time last year, we had five or six girls coming to training. We’ve now got 30 on the list.”
Full back Willow Healy said injection of fresh blood was a great thing for the squad.
“We’ve had a few girls go to the WAFL so that is good for us to see the development,” she said.
“We’ve gained some new faces from other sports so we have the skill set, it is now just about moving as a squad, being more of a team than individuals and that will happen over time and through training.”
The first round of the 2018 season kicks off on April 14 and 15.