Last Thursday night, we had our first major hit-out as a new group.
Those who made the trip to Epsom saw a quick and physical intra-club match.
I have always found intra-clubs are the messiest games of the year as both teams are trying to implement the same game style with similar talent levels.
However, I found Thursday night was positive in a lot of ways.
We have added a number of players with VFL experience at other clubs, albeit limited, but these players reinforced what we knew.
They are extremely keen to make the most of more game time and greater midfield opportunities.
Matty Stapleton looked like a player who would have enjoyed more opportunities in 2012, but was limited by being at an aligned VFL club.
He has a great running capacity, a strong mindset and understanding of what is required at VFL level.
Daniel Toman also stood out.
He is an accumulator, but also strong defensively, laying tackle after tackle.
He is a running machine and will play a huge role through the middle in 2013.
Alik Magin from the Gold Coast Suns looked like a player who has been in the AFL system.
He was clean and efficient with the ball, but also did a lot of work when he didn’t have possession.
Alik will be invaluable with his precise skills and ability to play forward, middle and back.
The positives were more than just our players from VFL or AFL level, though.
Tom Hams showed us he is ready for a big year.
He has had a huge pre- season adding bulk to his frame, while complementing that with greater aerobic capacity.
Tom’s elite skills and decision-making ability are critical.
He fits our needs perfectly, being a genuine midfield, back or forward option.
Matt Farrelly from Echuca was also a standout.
He is a natural footballer who implements everything you want to coach young men, but does it naturally.
He will play a pivotal role across half back.
Others like 18-year-old Jake Aarts, Jackson Bolton and Nathan Beck were solid contributors, giving us great depth and competition for our first practice match against the Northern Blues next Friday.
Considering the usual outcome of intra-clubs and key players such as Troy Kelm, Steven Stroobants and Shannen Lange were unable to take part, we could not have asked for a better preparation.
Personally, I would like to wish the Bendigo Spirit all the best for their grand final.
It has been a huge year from Bernie and his crew and we all hope they have a win for the region.