Bendigo’s Yasmin Colley. Photo: Andrew Perryman

THE Bendigo Thunder’s Northern Football League premiership defence begins this weekend when the reigning champions take on Diamond Creek in a grand final replay.

It will be a vastly different Thunder side that takes to the field, with several premiership players departing after last September’s triumph.

Jac Louttit and Emily Findlay and are among those to move on to VFL club Richmond while captain Leah French has gone to Collingwood.

Carlton’s Kerryn Harrington, who finished fourth in the Blues’ AFLW best and fairest, is another premiership player who has moved on from Bendigo.

There is no shortage of talent for new coach Luis Alvarez-Harris to work with, including captain and reigning NFLW leading goalkicker Andrea Walsh, who will captain the side this season.

In another positive, Bendigo will have plenty of players stepping up from the side that won last year’s inaugural Northern Country Women’s League premiership under coach Alan Last.

The club’s reserves side starts its campaign in the inaugural Central Victorian Women’s League season on May 5.

Bendigo plays Diamond Creek in round one of the NFLW season at Plenty Park on Sunday at 3pm.