ARE the Warrnambool and District league's days of being a two-tiered competition coming to an end?
Perhaps, if recruiting is anything to go by.
The district league has enjoyed a recruiting boom while things have been a little bit slow in the Hampden league.
It's not just the 'big' clubs bringing in some good talent, either.
Yes, Old Collegians have picked up some high-quality experience in the form of Justin Eales and Xavier McCartney but Timboon Demons and Russells Creek - two teams who missed finals last season - look promising on paper.
Timboon's new coach - David Johnston - arrives with WAFL and NEAFL experience while Creek has signed a Hampden league talent in Dylan Herbertson.
Several East Warrnambool players also found a home at Russells Creek when the club went into a two-year recess and the Kangaroos have picked up some decent talent.
They'll need time to gel, but if coach Peter Timms can get them firing, who knows?
There are still a few unknowns. Dennington, who secured the wooden spoon last season, has recruited a few back to the club but is readying for another year of building back up.
South Rovers is another - it's picked up a couple of handy players but is it enough to shake its mid-ladder status?
You'd expect Panmure to be solid again with some reasonably strong recruiting, and the same with Allansford.
Creek could possibly edge closer to the middle of the ladder, rather than the bottom, and same with Timboon Demons.
At the top end, Kolora-Noorat will be strong again, as will Nirranda and Merrivale, but some big departures from the Blues - Isaac Templeton and Will Paulin - could bring them closer to the middle of the pack.
Merrivale will again be up there.
The suggestion is that more teams will be fighting for finals action this season, rather than fighting against the wooden spoon.Nick Ansell
The suggestion is that more teams will be fighting for finals action this season, rather than fighting against the wooden spoon. There are more teams capable of battling it out in the middle of the ladder, therefore improving the standard of competition.
Things haven't moved as fast in the Hampden league. South Warrnambool and Portland are the first thing that springs to mind as potential improvers, but there's a lot of unknown as to how Hamilton Kangaroos, Cobden, Port Fairy, Terang Mortlake and Camperdown will fare.
Recruiting isn't necessarily all that - either. Good coaches create improvement from within and there's certainly no shortage of talented coaches across both leagues.
Only time will tell.
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