BRODY Mahoney is bullish about the young cohort impressing at Cobden's pre-season training.
The Bombers recruit and co-coach remembers seeing some of them play as juniors in his most recent stint at the Hampden league club five years ago.
Mahoney, 28, said the natural development from those players coupled with the experienced players' commitment to improvement meant there was a buzz around the club as it strives to make finals under second-year coach Dan Casey in 2023.
"I was one of the younger ones - I was 24 - when I left," he told The Standard at pre-season training on Monday night.
"Kids who were playing under 16s and under 14s are all pushing for seniors and playing seniors now."
Mahoney, who has been impressed with the Bombers' numbers on the track, has joined Tom Mahony, Jack Hammond, Daniel Watson and Jesse Williamson as off-season signings.
But he expects the dynamic Patty Smith to be like a new recruit too.
"Patty missed all of last year; he did his knee," Mahoney said.
"He's the fittest bloke here and he'll be raring to go. He's keener than anyone - he's here (at the club) nearly every night."
The former SANFL midfielder - he spent two seasons at Central Districts - said Smith was one of a number of players who had impressed him with their willingness to get better.
"Matty Kemp is little and quick and even the likes of the younger ones who are still coming up like Rhys Unwin, who was here earlier in the pre-season, and the Robertson boys - Jonty and Henry are here every chance they get (when they're not at NAB League training)," he said.
"There's an abundance of young talent at the club, that's why it's so exciting to be back. I didn't want to miss out on it."
Mahoney, who spent the past two seasons at Geelong league club Colac, expects Hammond, Williamson and Watson to have an immediate impact after choosing to return to their home clubs.
Mahoney and Watson will slot into the midfield while Hammond and Williamson could terrorise opponents on the wings.
"I played a lot with Jack when he was here and he was like 19 (at the time) and he was a gun then," he said.
"He's gotten better and better. He's playing and Nightcliff (in the NTFL) and killing it up there at the minute.
"Jess was the best wingers in the league for years so he'll play wing and forward and Jack can play anywhere.
"He's little and fast and can run and jump and has that little bit of x-factor.
"He's a little ball of energy - the boys feed off him."
Mahoney, who is based 20 minutes from the club in Curdievale where he lives with partner Jaymie Finch, feels refreshed after a break.
"The first full year in three years (due to the COVID-19) pandemic - I think everyone was feeling it," he said of his 2022 season.
"I am trying to lift my fitness up another standard and get these guys to follow as well and all of them are.
"I think our least amount (of players) to training so far out of six or seven sessions is 30 people and the first night of the year we had 48 rock up."
The Bombers are thrilled with their coaching group with consists Casey, Mahoney and assistant Jake Evans while Stuart Canavan, who jumped onboard last season and had an immediate impact in reducing soft tissue injuries, is in charge of strength and conditioning.
Mahoney, who works as a carpenter, said Casey had the players' respect and they were "just glued listening to him".
"He is so easy to work with and Jakey is unreal - he's just like that guy who thinks of everything you don't," he said.
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