SOMETIMES what you need arrives unexpectedly on your doorstep.
That was the case for promising Cobden footballer Rhys Unwin when strength and conditioning specialist Stuart Canavan moved to the south-west.
The reigning Hampden league under 16 best-and-fairest winner has utilised the Regional Institute of Sport director's expertise to prepare for NAB League pre-season training.
Unwin, 16, is content with the progress he's made as he strives to make Greater Western Victoria Rebels' 2023 list, in part to Canavan's help.
"Stuart has come down from Melbourne and joined the Cobden footy club and he's been really big for me to build some muscle and get fit the right way," he told The Standard.
"He's been unreal for me and has me nice and prepared for the Rebels' season. He was coming down this way and looking for a club to latch on to and help build a team environment.
"He chose Cobden and I think he might be doing a little bit of work with Camperdown too now."
The Mercy Regional College student said Canavan had ensured was smart with how he approached weight training.
"I have never really had a set-up program for myself; I've sort of always had a kick in the backyard," Unwin said.
"It's good to have someone who can talk to me about it and teach me the right techniques when lifting weights.
"I didn't want to throw myself into the weight room and be lifting the wrong stuff."
Unwin trained with the Rebels 12 months ago and made their under 16 program which played a round robin competition.
The stakes have risen as he vies for their NAB League side and a round one berth next year in the statewide junior pathway competition.
Pre-season training for the Hampden region's players starts at Warrnambool's Emmanuel College on Monday afternoon.
"I was a bit nervous last year coming into it but I am fairly relaxed knowing what's ahead of me," Unwin said.
"I've learned how to get the most out of training and the older boys have been there longer than I have so I try and take things from them and try my best to perform on a weekend when it matters."
A senior debut for Cobden is also on the small forward-wingman's to-do list.
He focused on under 16 football last season at club level as he felt he wasn't ready to play against seasoned opponents.
In 2023 he wants to feature in the Bombers' under 18 and senior teams.
"I didn't want to get hurt at such a young age," Unwin said.
Unwin, who has an after school job as a waiter at Steakroad Bar and Grill in Camperdown, won the league's top under 16 honour in August.
The accolade gave Unwin - a St Kilda fan who models his game on dynamic Sydney duo Tom Papley and Chad Warner - a boost to his inner belief levels.
"It's been huge as something I struggled with was if I played a bad game I'd get down a bit but after things like that, little achievements, they boost your confidence a lot," Unwin said.
"Even training with the seniors, you do things I would never have done last year."
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