It’s almost impossible to ignore the large number of departures from last year’s Murray League runner-up side, and the impact it will have on the team, but Finley is remaining upbeat.
Club president Ash Haynes said it was just one of those “cyclical events” where players decided the time was right to move on.
Haynes confirmed that the Cats expect to clear about 20 players to other clubs but said there are plenty of positives around the club to focus on.
The club’s seniors have manfully contested three of the last five grand finals without success, and this year will rely on a mix of loyal locals and young talent.
The club will say goodbye to its marquee Melbourne-based players including last year’s O’Dwyer medallist Ned Morrison and former AFL players Ed Barlow and Ed Lower.
‘‘We’ve still got the nucleus of a really good side, though,’’ Haynes said.
‘‘It might not be a grand final side but we’re hopeful of a mid-field finish. We’re still looking to add some senior players to the side and we’ve got a very good coach in Rob Daniel.’’
Haynes pointed to thirds graduates and talented midfielders Zeke Carruthers and Luke Moore, utility Tom Burns and key position tall Damon Anderson who will step up to the top grade. All four played in the Cats’ losing under-17 grand final side last year.
The Cats have also kept key position brothers Cam and Will Robertson and classy onballers Lachie Small, Shaun Kable and Kyle Russell — all members of last year’s grand final side.
‘‘Our core group of senior players are going to be so important to the club this year helping Rob (Daniel) jell the boys together,’’ Haynes said.
‘‘We’ve obviously entered a rebuilding phase at the club and will concentrate on developing the juniors this year.
‘‘Our under-17s played off in a grand final last year and a lot of those players were second year or bottom age so we know we’ve got some real talent to come through the ranks and build on over the next couple of years.’’
The Cats will again have Steve Parr lead their reserves side, Mick Taylor will continue as thirds coach and Mark Milthorpe will take on the role as fourths coach.
‘‘We have an outstanding group of coaches with vast experience in the coaching ranks,’’ Haynes said.
‘‘There is no better group for the development of our young players and there’s proof of that with Rob Daniel’s record speaking for itself.’’
In more good news for the club, all of its vacant committee positions from the AGM held in October have been filled.
Margot Robertson is junior vice president, with Jim Jewell filling the second junior vice president role.
Laurie Fyffe was nominated as a committee person and he accepted.
‘‘The club is very well placed off the field and we see these appointments as a real positive as we approach the 2017 season,’’ Haynes said.