After one of the most grueling seasons in recent memory, the Milton Ulladulla Bulldogs have left no stone unturned as they eye a return to finals contention in 2022.
In early December, the club announced its coaching staff for 2022, which is to be spearheaded by Mase Harrison, who takes over the First Grade role.
Harrison will be aided in his new role by Jayden Millard (assistant coach) and Gemma Afflick (strength and conditioning coach).
The former Batemans Bay Tigers captain-coach was approached by the Bulldogs when the contract with his longtime club ended after the 2021 season. Harrison took on the new role happily, having already eyed a move to Milton Ulladulla years earlier.
"About a year or two ago I looked to heading that way, but the timing wasn't right," he said.
"I left it at that, then the opportunity came up [more recently] and the club was in a good position."
The 2021 campaign was tough for the Bulldogs, as the their First and Reserve Grade sides finished last in their respective divisions during a time of significant rebuilding for the club.
But from what Harrison has seen of the local talent and the discussions he has had with the committee, he believes the Bulldogs' fortunes could rapidly improve with the right guidance.
"The club's in a rebuilding stage, and I think I could help them get to where they want to be in the next couple of years," he said.
"[I'm going to focus on] really looking after these local players and really nurturing them to bring them up to the standard of the First Grade competition in Group Seven."
Though the Bulldogs failed to secure a win in either of their senior men's competitions last year, Harrison is confident the foundation for finals contention exists within the club.
"Making the top five, that's a successful year," he said.
"Coming back into First Grade and making the top five, and maybe competing in semi-final football. That'd be a success.
"I think all these local guys that are playing, I think they're gonna be the real asset to the club. I think they'll be key to building something good for this year."
One factor that he suspects will play a significant role in inspiring the senior sides to greater results in 2022 is the community support, particularly with so many local faces in the team this year.
"I'm really hoping that the town can really get behind us this year," Harrison said.
"That's going to be a big thing, is the community getting behind the team. As there's going to be a lot of local boys, the more community support, the better."
Bulldogs secretary and treasurer, Sally Stewart, said the club committee is feeling extremely optimistic about the upcoming season considering the mammoth effort the club has put into its preparations.
"We're really excited about what 2022 is going to bring," Stewart said.
"We appointed our coaches early, signed some new marquee players, and kept a lot of our local junior players who needed a bit of guidance and strength to get them through.
"There's definitely a great vibe among the club, we've got a large committee this year of about 25 people, which includes some business people around town and a lot of the First Grade local players have come on board as well, so they want to help build the club."
The club's full coaching staff for 2022 is as follows:
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