MELBOURNE will unveil two new recruits against Port Adelaide on Saturday afternoon, with Marty Hore and Corey Wagner set to take to the MCG for the first time.
It’s set to be an exciting Round 1 game for the Demons, with Hore, the two-time Collingwood VFL best and fairest winner, making his AFL debut.
Hore was drafted to the club with pick No.56 in the 2018 National Draft, and General Manager of Football and Operations Josh Mahoney says the selection is a great reward for the 23-year-old.
“Marty’s a great story of perseverance,” Mahoney told Melbourne Media.
“He wanted to continue playing the highest level of footy that he could, particularly through Collingwood’s VFL program.
“Our recruiters watched him each year and he got better and better.
“He’s come out, played a good role for us through the JLT series, and thoroughly deserves his position in our team for Round 1.”
Wagner is equally as deserving of a chance on the big stage after being cut by North Melbourne in 2017 – just eight games into his AFL career.
“Corey really impressed us last year playing at the Casey Demons where he won the best and fairest,” Mahoney said.
“He’s a really good athlete, can run all day and plays the Melbourne way, so we’re really happy to give him the reward for what he’s been able to do since he was delisted by the Kangaroos.”
While there will be two new faces on display, some senior Demons will also pull on the red and blue, recovering from respective injuries in time to face the Power.
Co-captains Nathan Jones and Jack Viney, along with star forward Jake Melksham, are back to full fitness, giving the Dees a significant boost ahead of the season.
“We’ve been able to manage those three players strongly over the last month,” Mahoney said.
“We made the decision two weeks ago to play them in the VFL rather than the JLT series and maximised their game time.
“They trained really strongly last Friday in a match simulation session so we’re comfortable those three are ready to go and ready to perform on Saturday.”
The Demons will have 18 of their 22 players from last year’s Preliminary Final lining up in Round 1, with Hore, Wagner, Bayley Fritsch and Jayden Hunt the only additions.
It is a well-balanced side for the Dees who are in a strong position to attack the start of 2019.
“We were presented with a shorter pre-season this year which presented some challenges with a number of players having operations at the end of the year,” Mahoney said.
“But we’re really happy, particularly over the last four to six weeks, with how our team’s built.”
Melbourne’s clash with Port Adelaide will kick off at 1:45pm at the MCG on Saturday. See the full Round 1 team below.