MULGRAVE plans to push itself into the spotlight this Eastern Football League season.
To add to their young core the Lions have signed a strong class of recruits — former Port Melbourne utility Sebastian Henderson, former Lions premiership player David Stokie, who returns from Berwick, and Ben Gilling, who comes back to the Lions after playing with Norwood in division 1 last season.
Lions recruits include David Waser from Foster, Darren Butler from Upper Ferntree Gully, Trent King and Lachie Ryan from Vermont and Shaun Calammatta from Scoresby. The club will also be the focus of the opening round when it faces Bayswater under lights at Bayswater Oval to open the EFL season.
Lions coach Ryan James said his side made an excellent start to the preseason with a heavy fitness training block before Christmas and now looked to build on that work when official training resumes this week.
"The program we had before Christmas was as solid as any I've been involved in at the club," James said.
"We employed a fitness and conditioning coach who had experience with Queensland Reds and some AFL clubs to design a program and he really smashed the boys.
"We needed to step things up a bit and the program has targeted specific things to help us."
James said the club had done well with its recruiting, focusing on luring former players back to the club.
"We targeted some needs and players in certain age groups," James said.
"They all wanted to come back so it we didn't have to work too hard to get them back.
"A guy like Stokie is one of the greats of the club and will also be our midfield coach as well."
James also confirmed playing assistant coach Craig Skicko had left to pursue other opportunities. He said his players were primed for the opening of preseason matches and the clash with the Waters in round 1 of the second division.
"We are not going to hide from pressure this year. Hopefully, there is a big crowd at that first game and we have everyone watching.
"The boys are super excited about it and from my perspective it will be good to see how everyone reacts when they are under a bit of pressure."
The Lions have also booked preseason matches against Oakleigh Amateurs and division 3 club Ringwood. The latter game is scheduled for the weekend before the EFL season begins.