COBDEN coach Wayne Robertson has conceded his players will be the hunted, rather than the hunter, this Hampden league season.
The Bombers this week unveiled the fruits of their productive off-season recruiting as they gear up for the season-opener in April.
Robertson described season 2012, in which the Bombers surprised to reach the grand final, as “a very positive year”.
But he said the breakout season, sparked by the rise of a host of home-grown players, would not go unnoticed by the rest of the competition.
“We’ve spoken about that now. Last year was a very positive year, there was no expectation on us last year,” he said.
“There is expectation this year.
“Blokes need to prepare themselves physically and mentally for that and we’ve been very happy with the way they’ve gone about that.”
Cobden has been the most active Hampden league club during the off-season.
The recruit influx at Cobden Recreation Reserve started with Marcus Hickey (Timboon Demons), onballer Brody Mahony (Colac) and veteran Adam Courtney (Simpson).
Brothers Josh and Brent Goonan (South Colac), Tom Leishman (Simpson) and Brad Salmon (Simpson) have also put pen to paper.
Klint Wagstaff returns to Cobden after stints at Timboon Demons and Nirranda, while former Bombers Stephen Hammond, Darryl Beechey, Matthew Harkin and Matthew Unwin are also back.
Cobden was six goals short of Warrnambool on grand final day, but Robertson would not be drawn on whether the new faces could make up the gap.
“I don’t know, mate, I don’t want to say that at all,” he said.
“We were six goals off winning a senior grand final and our reserves only won a handful of games for the year.
“We really need to work on the depth at the club.
“They’re all from the district leagues and that’s what we see our club being, a place that can provide the opportunity to blokes from the district leagues who want to step up.”
Robertson said Cobden would have a pool of as many as 33 players who could play senior Hampden league football.
Hickey, arguably the pick of the recruits, is likely to have a forward role, leaving two-time Maskell Medallist Levi Dare to shoulder the bulk of the ruck work.
“We’ll have a few more options going forward than this time last year,” Robertson said.
“We’ll judge them on their merits. They’ll all be given opportunities.
“We’re focusing on their work rate at the minute and we’re happy with the way they’re acquitting themselves.”