AN experienced recruit's impact is being felt at Allansford before a game has been played.
Bradley Bull's leadership on the pre-season training track has impressed Cats coach Tim Nowell ahead of the 2023 season.
Bull, who has joined the Warrnambool and District league after a distinguished Hampden league career with Warrnambool, is helping the Cats' plethora of emerging footballers.
"Having guys like Brad at our football club now brings that little bit of leadership and experience which helps the young lads out," Nowell said.
"You can't buy the knowledge that bloke's got - he's a 200-plus gamer in the Hampden league, has played a couple of grand finals, finals football.
"He's a very good speaker and the younger lads have taken a liking to him because of that leadership."
Allansford, which finished seventh in 2022 with four wins and 14 losses, is backing its younger cohort to improve.
Players ready to take the next step include Bradley Edge, Ben Lee, new recruit Dylan Chapman, who has crossed from Port Fairy, Josh Kirkwood and Brady Coutts.
Aiden Gordon, Cooper Day, Flynn Gleeson, Ruben Swan and Lachlan Read will come up from under 18s and are "walk-up senior players".
Jackson McLean, Sutha Hawkins and Kade Gordon are under 18 players who have been training with the senior squad.
"We've put a fair bit of focus into them and improving their game craft and their skills," Nowell said of the club's next generation.
"We've got a very capable list - we're just in that development stage and once we click it together we'll be a handy side.
"Kal Jans' hardness at the football is good and he's been working really hard on his skills."
Nowell believes experienced players, such as under 18 coach Robbie Hare and Brett Hunger who is "the fittest I've ever seen", will complement the Cats' youth.
"If we can see some improvements this year, that's what we're chasing," he said.
"We'll take it week-by-week.
"Everyone wants to step up, everyone wants a little bit more success this year and you can sort of feel that amongst the group.
"We want to win more games than we did last year and there's that belief in the group. The chemistry among the group is really, really good."
Allansford has a practice match against Colac Imps on Friday night as it counts down to its round one clash on Saturday, April 1.
"It will be a good hit-out. We're just going to play most of our younger players and the older blokes won't play," Nowell said.
"We'll move them around a little bit - guys that have been forward will have a run back and guys that have been backmen will have a run forward."
Allansford will be without Rhys Buck (Terang Mortlake), Joby Baker (Dennington) and Harry Searle (Panmure) in 2023 while Geelong-based duo Ben Deluca and Lachie Lusher won't commute to play either.
Nowell said the Cats endorsed Buck's decision to join the Bloods and test himself in the Hampden league.
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