THREE-TIME premiership player Cameron Ling says former Bendigo Pioneer Nick Dal Santo is having an impressive pre-season with North Melbourne.
Ling, who has changed his stripes this season; has taken up a part-time position with the Kangaroos.
While after 12 seasons with St Kilda, Dal Santo also joined the team as a restricted free agent at the end of the 2013 season.
In the city for the launch of the Bendigo Pioneers season, Ling told the Bendigo Advertiser that the three-time All-Australian was fitting in well with his new team mates.
“From what I have seen of him as far as the leadership stuff goes, he has been outstanding, he has a lot of experience,” he said.
“He has been helping the young guys to improve and from all reports from the coaches and the fitness staff he has been training really well, he is really fit.”
Ling said Dal Santo was really keen to keep playing and improving his game.
“Nick is a gun player and he wants to keep at that standard if not improve,” he said.
“He has been first class.”
Ling hoped the inclusion of Dal Santo into the first 22 the Kangaroos would be able to push for a top eight position this season.
“I think if they get everything right and learn from everything that happened last year, then I think at the end of the year they will finish up with a pretty good result,” he said.
“It is such a close competition, you go through each team and you probably have 14 teams that could make the top eight.
“One or two slip ups or ordinary performances can hurt any team across the board.”
The Geelong premiership captain has also spent a lot of time with another famous Bendigo sports star, Joel Selwood.
Ling said it was incredible to see the 25-year-old continue to impress each year.
“He is a phenomenal player and a great person,” he said.
“I am sure everyone in Bendigo knows that already.
“It is amazing how competitive he is and how driven he is to keep improving.
“He pushes his body, he wants to win, he wants to be the best he can be.”
Ling said one of Selwood’s best qualities was his leadership.
“His leadership is exceptional, he sets the example to all the younger guys on the list,” he said.
Ling predicts another big year for the former Bendigo Pioneer, who finished second in last year’s Brownlow medal.
He said this year’s finals race was wide open but predicted the premiership would come from three teams, Hawthorn, Fremantle or Sydney.
“Hawthorn are a huge chance, they are a quality team,” Ling said.
“Sydney will be super dangerous with the addition of Buddy (Lance Franklin).
“Then Fremantle, that intensity they can play, that fierce defensive pressure, I think they have seen that it works and they will still be highly motivated to win a flag.”