THE next crop of aspiring North Ballarat Rebels is already preparing for 2014.
The Rebels have selected under-16 and under-18 Wimmera squads, which the TAC Cup side will draw on when forming its team.
The squads are made up of players predominantly from Wimmera and Horsham District football leagues, but there are also players from Kowree-Naracoorte-Tatiara, Mininera and Mallee leagues.
There are 25 players in the under-18 squad and 21 in the under-16 squad.
All 46 players have started pre-season training and had their fitness tested and assessed on Monday night at St Brigid’s College.
Tests included 20-metre sprints and a beep test, which were monitored by Rebels officials including under-18 squad development coach Jaye Macumber, under-16 coach Shayne Breuer and AFL Victoria Ballarat region manager Phil Partington.
Macumber said he was extremely impressed with the fitness and skills his players showed.
“They are probably ahead of where I thought they would be and they came back a lot fitter than I expected,” he said.
“A couple of the boys did more than 14 on the beep test, which is impressive given that it’s only November.”
Macumber said the squad’s attitude was also exemplary.
“From a coaching perspective they are a great bunch of blokes and they look you in the eye and listen to everything you have to say,” he said.
“I’ve dealt with a lot of teams in the past and you always have your one or two that stuff around, but none of these boys are doing that and they’re very focused and attentive, which is great.
“As a squad, they’re really working hard to make each other better, which is fantastic because a lot of times boys might be looking out for themselves, but these blokes all look out for each other.”
Macumber said he expected the Wimmera to be strongly represented again in this year’s Rebels team.
He said he was pushing for the Wimmera squads to play pre-season practice matches against the Rebels’ other squads in Warrnambool and Ballarat.