Lions ready to roar in 2018 season

Dan Beardshaw will return to his position of first grade coach next year.

Dan Beardshaw will return to his position of first grade coach next year.

The Mittagong Lions has kicked off training for the 2018 season.

Club members gathered in Mittagong to discuss the upcoming season and commence their training.

A presentation was held at Mittagong RSL Club on Sunday, December 10.

This covered the club’s expectations for members in the 2018 season, as well as plans for new leadership groups.

There was an opportunity to hear from 2018 coaches including first grade coach Dan Beardshaw, reserve grade coach Billy Hayward and under 18s coach Jake Tonitto.

Rhyce McLaren and Matt Thorpe will return to the field with the Mittagong Lions first grade team after a year off from the game.

Rhyce McLaren and Matt Thorpe will return to the field with the Mittagong Lions first grade team after a year off from the game.

Following the presentation there was a core skill development and conditioning session at Mittagong Oval for players. 

At the end of the day there was an opportunity for new and current players to socialise over dinner at Mittagong RSL Club.

During the day, club members caught up with two returning players.

This included the group six player of the year Matt Thorpe, who has joined the club again after a year off the game.

Meanwhile Rhyce McLaren will also return to the field after a year off, and contribute his skills next season.

Coach Billy Hayward said he was excited to welcome the players back to the club. “Both boys are excited to come back to the club,” Hayward said. “They saw the standard we set this year.”

Billy Hayward will return to the position of reserve grade coach for the Mittagong Lions in the 2018 season.

Billy Hayward will return to the position of reserve grade coach for the Mittagong Lions in the 2018 season.

Hayward said club members had already set the bar high in terms of training for the 2018 season. “Turning out a week before Christmas shows how much they want to do well,” he said.

Turning out a week before Christmas shows how much they want to do well.

Mittagong Lions reserve grade coach Billy Hayward

Under 18s coach Jake Tonitto said he looked forward to bringing his experience to the role.

Tonitto has been involved with junior representative programs for seven years.

NEW FACE: Jake Tonitto will bring his wealth of experience to the Mittagong Lions under 18s team next year. Photos: Emily Bennett

NEW FACE: Jake Tonitto will bring his wealth of experience to the Mittagong Lions under 18s team next year. Photos: Emily Bennett

He has worked with the Penrith Panthers, the Western Sydney Academy of Sport and the Southern Sydney Academy of Sport.

His most recent role was assistant coach of the under 18s Magpies. “Being involved in an elite level with the Magpies under 18s team, I’m looking forward to instilling what I know into the team to take them to the next level,” Tonitto said. “I want to get them to a level where they’re competing week in and week out, and improving their core skills. Hopefully we can get some good results. “Our challenge with the under 18s is getting the mind of the players. They’re at an impressionable age, we want to have an environment that makes them want to do well.”

Players will take part in two training sessions a week in the new year.

There will also be a training session in Berry on March 3.

There will also be a trial against Moorebank in Mittagong Oval on March 17.

Beardshaw gave the first grade team some words of encouragement at Mittagong Oval on the weekend.

Beardshaw gave the first grade team some words of encouragement at Mittagong Oval on the weekend.

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