NORTH Ballarat Rebels squad coach Chris McLaren says Warrnambool-based hopefuls will be put through a rigorous pre-season campaign.
The Rebels are a week into their summer program which will include twice-weekly sessions in the lead-up to Christmas.
The Warrnambool region has 50 teenagers eyeing spots on the Rebels’ under 18 and under 16 2014 lists.
McLaren said the players, who have shifted from Friendly Societies’ Park to Emmanuel College for training, would have to work hard to earn a spot on the TAC Cup list.
“The boys are going really well and it’s a bit harder to previous years with the pre-season they have planned out,” McLaren said.
“The strength and conditioning guys in Ballarat send down a program week-to-week.
“They have set out a running program and we follow that and the skills are up to the coaches.
“We should get a fair bit of fitness into them before Christmas.”
The teenagers were put through their paces at a testing session on Thursday night under the watchful eye of Rebels coach David Loader and talent manager Phil Partington.
McLaren said the Warrnambool players performed strongly.
“The beep test scores were really good. Ballarat did theirs on Monday and Wednesday and our high-end scores were up with them,” he said.
“They did the 30-metre shuttle run as well. We had boys in low three seconds so that’s pretty fast.
“We’ll train again early next year for a while and have another testing day and line scores up with the pre-Christmas ones.”
McLaren said Warrnam-bool had up to 10 players make the Rebels’ final list each year.
“We’re really expecting boys who played last year to improve to be put back on,” he said.
“They have started well.”
Geelong Falcons start their pre-season tonight.