Friday marks 50 days to the start of the Bendigo Football Netball League season and Kangaroo Flat players can't wait to get back on the park.
Saturday, April 9 couldn't come quick enough for the Roos as they prepare to host Maryborough at Dower Park.
The young Roos have undertaken a heavy fitness component in their pre-season schedule and on Wednesday night they played some match simulation at Dower Park.
Coach James Flaherty was impressed with what he saw.
"We've been working hard towards that game structure side of it,'' he said.
"It feels like ages ago that we last played a game, which is a bit odd, but we're ready to go.
"Maintaining control of the ball and ball use has been a key part of our training and you can see some improvement there."
World-class Bendigo triathlete Leon Griffin has taken the running sessions for the Roos during the off-season and you could see a marked improvement in the group's fitness levels.
"Leon has been coming to training once a week and he's added an extra element to training,'' Flaherty said.
"We've had multiple sessions with Leon up at Crusoe Reservoir. He works on longer distance running, shorter distances and he's worked in ball-related running as well.
"The players have really enjoyed it and the feedback from them is that the training sessions in the last three weeks have been tougher than the pre-Christmas period.
"I can see that each year I've been here, the fitness has improved in general. The boys are starting to click on what's required. It's a lot better."
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The improvement has been led by the Roos' talented crop of young players.
"Even though last year was tough, the younger players have had that taste and they want to get better,'' Flaherty said.
"The 10-12 players that are in the top running group really push each other to get the best result possible."
Key defender Nathan McHugh, who has relocated to Queensland, is arguably the biggest departure in the off-season for the Roos.
The young key defender had shown plenty in his first couple of seasons of senior footy.
His place down back could be filled by another Bendigo Pioneers graduate - Ryan O'Keefe.
The athletic key position player has already played a few senior games with the Roos, but looks set to play full-time with his home club this season.
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"Ryan wants to play with his mates and enjoy his footy and we're very happy to have him,'' Flaherty said.
"He's a modern day footballer with his running capacity and athletic ability."
Hayden O'Brien - cousin of returning siblings Mitch and Liam Collins - has signed with the Roos after previously playing senior footy in the Ovens and Murray Football League.
"He's a half-forward or half-back that's still only young and he'll fit in well with our group,'' Flaherty said of O'Brien.
"We haven't smashed the door down with recruits, but with a few players returning to the club, and a couple of recruits thrown in, we feel we're in good shape.
"Our plan has always been around the young group coming through and we won't deviate from that."
The Roos are likely to play three practice matches, starting with a clash against White Hills on Friday, March 11.
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