DEAKIN University has lured three key Sharks to The Pond for the approaching Warrnambool and District Football Netball League (WDFNL) season.
Nanjing Night Net

Clinton Baker, Jarrod Stafford and David Atkinson have joined the club and will occupy important positions across the park.

Second-year Deakin coach Craig Fowler said the arrival of the Mortlake-based trio had already lifted expectations for the year.

Baker, recruited from North Warrnambool Eagles, will take on the centre-half-forward role. The towering Stafford, who played in the Eagles’ under 18 side last year, is an obvious choice for the ruck.

While Atkinson, who was joint coach of the Sharks in 2008 and 2009, returns to the club’s backline.

“We’ve been working hard to get local people to support the Sharks,” Fowler told The Standard.

“We’re trying to get football back into Mortlake.

“Clinton has lived in Mortlake for a number of years, Jarrod is an up-and-coming player who is a very popular young lad about town and David loves the Sharks.” Deakin’s pre-season started before Christmas and Fowler said numbers were already up on last year.

He said the next stage of the recruiting process was the annual intake of university students and on-campus residents.

Fowler made a presentation to new students during the orientation program last week.

“It’s a gradual thing,” he said.

“It’s still uncertain what we’ll get off residence but hopefully we see a few on the track this week.

“We’ve had some first-year kids who have been quite good for us.”

Fowler said half-forward Paul Shields and half-back-flanker Tom Coverdale were two capable students returning this season.

The Sharks train on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6pm at Deakin University and new players are welcome to attend.

“I know we’re not the most successful club going around,” Fowler said.

“But we can only get better if the students support the footy club.”

Deakin will feature in the opening match of the WDFNL season, against East Warrnambool at Reid Oval on Sunday, April 1.

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