TWO footballers training with Carlton's VFL program are expected to embrace added on-field responsibility at South Warrnambool in 2023.
Will White and Myles McCluggage - both graduates from the newly-renamed Coates Talent League (formerly NAB League) - have impressed Roosters coach Mat Battistello at pre-season training.
Battistello said White, who has carved a name as an elusive small forward, and McCluggage, who has found a niche in defence, would rotate through South Warrnambool's midfield when the season kicked off on April 2.
Their midfield minutes will be important as co-captain Liam Youl will be sidelined early after surgery to fix a plantar fasciitis issue he played through last season.
"There will be lots of opportunities the way we're looking at it - at the start of the year we have a number of players, especially over the May races and double bye that we get due to (playing on) Good Friday, heading overseas," Battistello told The Standard.
"That will present opportunities for some of our younger players that we've invested time in.
"We anticipate in the back half of the year we'll get more continuity in our list."
Battistello said White, McCluggage, Jonah Maher, Jed Henderson, Isaac Thomas, Brayden Beks and Ollie Bridgewater, coming off "a breakout year", could all go to "other levels" as the club aimed for another finals berth.
The non-playing mentor said White and McCluggage would complement Josh Saunders and Archie Stevens, who is contracted for a second season with VFL team Carlton, in the South midfield.
"Will and Myles are training with Carlton in the VFL and doing extremely well down there," he said.
"They will both integrate into the midfield in time. Myles will probably start down back and integrate himself into the midfield and Will will be pretty similar but forward into the midfield."
South Warrnambool, which will have AFL prospect George Stevens available after a serious knee injury, is coming off a preliminary final finish.
Optimism is high after the Roosters locked in goal-kicking midfielder Dan Nicholson (Russells Creek) and experienced VAFA player Jeremy Mugavin (University Blues) for their 2023 campaign.
"There was an opportunity missed last year, whether that was stuff in our control or out of our control, and we feel like we've proven we can match it with the top sides," Battistello said.
"Through natural gains and investment in our current playing group, I know the coaching staff are extremely confident we have enough talent there."
South Warrnambool will host a practice match against Ballarat-based club Lake Wendouree at Friendly Societies' Park on Saturday, March 18.
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