LUKE McConnell played alongside Ben Kenna in the twilight of the latter's distinguished football career.
Now the emerging midfielder-forward is preparing to play for Kenna - Terang Mortlake's non-playing coach - after crossing to the Bloods from Kolora-Noorat for the 2023 season.
McConnell, 22, said Kenna's steadiness as a leader was one of the factors for leaving the Warrnambool and District league for the Hampden competition.
A connection with friends in red and blue and the chance to test himself in the south west's major league were other factors.
"Beagle (Kenna) has been an influence," McConnell told The Standard.
"Since he played at the Power, I know what he's like.
"I think my first season was when I was 15 or 16 and they (the experienced players) took me under their wings which was good.
"Beagle is very straightforward and knows how to direct people into their roles and has them playing to their full strengths and he has a lot of drive to him."
The Camperdown-based carpenter is one of four recruits as Terang Mortlake plots a rise up the ladder.
His Power teammate Ben Reid has also joined the Bloods, while Rhys Buck (Allansford) and Alex Moloney - a former player - have also committed.
McConnell, a midfielder who can go forward and be damaging, is keeping his personal goals simple.
"I want to be a team player and earn my spot," the 2019 Kolora-Noorat premiership player said.
"From watching (the Hampden league) the speed of the game is a bit different.
"It's more up (tempo) which is good and when you place yourself around better players you improve yourself as well."
McConnell said the close connection between the Power and Bloods - a seven-kilometre stretch of road separates the two - meant he had strong friendship groups at both clubs.
"Ben is coming across with me. We were talking about it and were ready for the change and wanted to do it as good mates," he said.
"Kane Johnstone, I went to school with him and played a bit of school footy with him, and Daniel Kenna played at the Power and has always been a very handy player to be around.
"He's got immaculate skills and there's Will Kain down forward and it will be great to kick it down to him.
"Darcy Hobbs is a big gut-runner for a ruckman and there's a couple of the older boys like Jarryd Hay, Joe Arundell and Alex Moloney (who I am looking forward to playing with).
"I am keen to get out on the field with them all and really push each other."
Terang Mortlake showed stark improvement in its performances in the second half of the 2022 season.
McConnell believes the Bloods can climb the ladder with natural improvement.
"We are going to be pushing each other to do our best," McConnell.
Terang Mortlake starts its pre-season training on Monday night at Terang Recreation Reserve.
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