Werribee has kicked off a new year of re-signings by securing the commitment of key midfielders Tom Gribble and Joe Maishman.
The new deals will see the duo back at Avalon Airport Oval for a sixth and fifth season respectively, ensuring the retention of more valuable experience in a midfield group already boasting AFL veteran Michael Barlow and three-time club best-and-fairest winner Matt Hanson.
Gribble is of Werribee’s most seasoned campaigners, having played 69 senior games in the “big W” since joining the club in 2014 after four VFL games with Geelong.
In addition to his prolific ball-winning ability, the 24-year-old has brought vital continuity to the midfield group of late as the only Werribee player to line up in every VFL game for the last two seasons.
He enjoyed perhaps his best season yet in 2018, finishing second in Werribee’s best-and-fairest count and earning VFL Team of the Year honours for a second time after finishing third in the competition for disposals (496 at 27.5 per game) and sixth for clearances.
Werribee football operations manager Stuart Balloch said Gribble’s re-commitment was an important one for the club as it looks to build a powerful engine room under new senior coach Mark Williams.
“Tom has 70-odd games under his belt now and has picked up another Team of the Year selection, so he’s really hitting that sweet spot with his footy,” Balloch said.
“He really stepped up in the absence of Matt Hanson last year, so when you put Matt back into the side and throw Mick Barlow into the mix, that midfield group starts to look pretty formidable.”
With 56 VFL games to his name, Maishman is also among the more experienced of Werribee’s returning players.
The pacey 22-year-old enjoyed a breakout 2018 season through the chance to spend more time on the inside, playing all 18 VFL games for the first time, kicking a career-high 12 goals, and going on to finish equal sixth in the club best and fairest.
His contributions saw him listed among his side’s best on five occasions and twice named best afield, his 31-disposal, four-goal effort against Frankston in round 12 showcasing just how damaging he can be at his best.
“Joe has performed really well through the pre-season so far after playing every game last year, so we’re really hopeful of him continuing to develop and take another step forward,” Balloch said.
“He gives us a bit of speed through the midfield and certainly seemed to enjoy the chance to spend more time in the middle, so we’re excited to see what he can do this year.”
WERRIBEE 2019 SIGNINGS