CDCA top-grade cricket captains have tipped 2014-15 premier Alvie to go back-to-back this season in a strengthened Division One competition.
Five of the nine leaders predicted the Swans to defend their title, while Apollo Bay, Colac, City United and newcomers Birregurra all polled one vote in the Colac Herald’s Captains Survey.
The Saints stepped into top-grade cricket this season alongside Warrion to lift the CDCA’s Division One competition to nine teams.
But the Swans expect to welcome back Mark Kent after injury derailed his 2014-15 campaign, and officials are keen on Chris Hickey stepping up this season.
Spencer Williamson is also a walk-up start to Alvie’s first XI after the promising youngster endured grand final heartbreak, when he missed the decider through injury.
The Maroon Caps lost to Alvie in the decider and Stoneyford captain Levi Dare, who is set to be restricted to only batting this season after undergoing a knee reconstruction from a football injury, said the Swans would be hard to beat.
“They know how to win,” he said.
“I didn’t rate them too highly last year, but they killed us in the grand final, they’ve got guys who can win a game off their own bat.”
Irrewarra’s Leighton Hart said the Swans’ experience could get them over the line, and his prediction was echoed by Birregurra’s Rueben Dare, City’s Sam Cardinal and Panther Jarryd Cranwell.
“I think Alvie will be strong,” Hart said.
“They usually get it pretty right with a mixture of their older and younger blokes.
“Apollo Bay can surprise a lot of teams this year too I think.”
Five captains tipped the Sharks to make finals after adding Dale Boyd to their squad, while six picked City to grab a top-four spot again after reaching a semi-final last season.
Alvie premiership skipper Luke McLennan said he expected United to be the Swans’ biggest challenger this season.
“I think City United look like they might have picked up well,” he said.
“They were around the mark last year and I think they’ve added a few players to their squad from the whispers I’ve heard.”