APPLYING more pressure at every contest will be a focus for the young Bloods in South Bendigo Football-Netball Club's senior team in 2022.
Among those determined to have a greater impact in the Bloods' quest for a long-awaited senior finals appearance is Wil McCaig.
The 20-year-old played eight senior matches in a shortened 2021 BFNL season.
McCaig's senior debut was in the one-point victory against Eaglehawk in round two at the QEO.
"It was the best game of footy I have played in," McCaig said.
"The feeling before, during and after the match was incredible."
It was the second leg in what would be a four-game winning streak by the Bloods to start the season.
South Bendigo kicked on for a win-loss record of 9-3 and was on the verge of senior finals.
It was not to be as the season was called off because of COVID protocols.
"To play finals is what every player at the club is determined to achieve," McCaig said of the force driving the Nathan Horbury-coached squad.
"I have been at the club since under-10s and the seniors have not played finals since 2012.
To play finals is what every player at the club is determined to achieve- Wil McCaig
"It's a huge motivator for this season," the wingman said.
McCaig's hard work at Snap Fitness and in training sessions at Harry Trott Oval is clearly shown in a much stronger physique.
His run and carry from a wing, flanks or through midfield will be a key, especially on the wider QEO.
"A goal for this season was to be stronger in the contest, especially one-on-one," McCaig said.
He has added 5kg to his frame through weight training and also the physical demands being a second-year apprentice builder with Paul Gray Builders.
McCaig and his team-mates know that to qualify for finals will not be easy.
"There is a lot of confidence we can take from the way we played last year, but we will have to work incredibly hard."
Workrate is what McCaig takes great pride in - whether it be on the footy field, building a home, or other sporting pursuits.
Although his family is best known for cycling, McCaig was always determined to play footy.
"One of my mates from school, James Tyack was playing for South and asked if I wanted to have a go.
"From that first training session I was really keen to play."
For a few years there was footy and also athletics in cross-country and track, but the Bloods won out.
"The training and racing I did in athletics has helped my footy a lot."
McCaig said quick ball movement and stronger defence were a major focus for the Bloods this season.
The club has welcomed back Liam Byrne and Isaiah Miller to midfield or on-ball roles and also as assistant coaches.
First test of the Bloods' game plan is the first-round clash this Saturday against Golden Square at the QEO.
Since 2017 the head-to-head record is 6-1 in favour of the Bulldogs.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.