As Kyabram searches for a fourth Goulburn Valley League premiership in five years, the question of hunger among the playing group rears its head once more.
But incoming coach Brad Edwards was happy to see any concerns he had dispelled in the fledgling stages of preparations for the upcoming campaign.
“The continued motivation to be the best and to keep winning, not rest on our laurels, is a big focus,” Edwards said.
“The talent isn’t just going to get us there; we need to keep working hard.
“I suppose there’s always that worry that you’re going to drop off with the hunger and the motivation, but so far they’ve attacked the pre-season as hard as ever and really put that to bed early.”
Leading the charge is Tom Sheldon, impressing not just Edwards but the remainder of the list as well.
“Tom is one who’s as fit as ever, he’ll captain the side alongside Morgs (Jason Morgan) this year, and for a guy like him who has achieved so much in his career to be flying at this time of the year is really impressive,” Edwards said.
“It’s good to have one of the older guys go back to the well and find something extra, he’s really led the way on that.
“It shows the guys that you’re not going to win every game again if you’re not putting in the effort; it’s pleasing, and something the boys can really look up to.”
Other Bombers in supreme shape include Jason Morgan and Cade Mueller – both on whom missed out on last year’s flag.
“Cade has been training really well, he’ll slot into our backline as a small defender this season,” Edwards said.
“He missed out last year and there’s a bit more motivation there for him because he missed out in finals the year before as well.
“Jase is looking as fit as he has for a long time, a guy of his calibre is a massive inclusion for a side that’s just won a flag, he’s a brilliant asset.”
The summer of recruiting has been a quiet one for the Bombers with Jake Reeves and Aaron Hayes moving on and Josh Vick taking a step back, while Eaglehawk’s Jarryd Pertzel and the returning Sean Dillon come into the squad.
But Edwards is again looking for growth from within at Kyabram Recreation Reserve.
“I think most times you’re happy to get one or two guys out of the thirds who can walk straight into senior footy, and I think we’re in a pretty good position this year where we’ve got three or four that are good enough,” he said.
“Then you look at guys like Zac Norris, Brad Whitford, Kyle Mueller and Tom Holman who are all still early twenties or younger and there’s always improvement there.”
And as for his first foray into coaching, Edwards will not be reinventing the wheel which Paul Newman handed over to him at the end of last season.
“Nothing’s going to change drastically, I’m not here to change a winning formula,” he said.
“I’ve probably enjoyed it more than I thought I was going to. Going in, maybe I was a little bit unsure if it was the right thing to be doing, but I’m enjoying it.
“Paul Burnett is coming on as assistant coach, he’s been a massive influence – he’s got so much knowledge and experience – and he has been at every training and is a massive help for me.
“I think the boys are enjoying having a fresh voice around the group, too.”
JOINED LEAGUE: 1894
GROUND: KYABRAM RECREATION RESERVE
COACH: BRAD EDWARDS
PRESIDENT: PETER LEARMONTH
PREMIERSHIPS: 1919, 1921, 1922, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1948, 1950, 1958, 1975, 1996, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019
MORRISON MEDALLISTS: J. COOPER (1958, 1961), C. STEWART (1963), R. CLAY (1964), P. GITTOS (1987), B. GUGLIOTTI (1993), M. MATTINGLY (2019)
2019 FINISH: PREMIER (21-0)
2019 BEST-AND-FAIREST: MICK MATTINGLY
2019 LEADING GOAL-KICKER: KYLE MUELLER (75)
IN: Jarryd Pertzel (Eaglehawk), Sean Dillon
OUT: Jake Reeves (Girgarre), Aaron Hayes (Nullawil)
GAME CHANGER: Kyle Mueller
It is easy to forget that Mueller is still in his early twenties.
The electric forward has 190 goals in the past three seasons alone for the Bombers – and 209 at senior level – and it is not a stretch to think that he might crack the ton this year.
When a player of his calibre is getting the second-best opposition small most weeks, it is a recipe for carnage.
FINISHING RANGE: FIRST TO SECOND
It is almost a moot point to give Kyabram a finishing range – the Bombers should land another Goulburn Valley League minor premiership this season.
As always though, it is what happens after that which matters, and there will be plenty of sides confident they can give Kyabram a red-hot battle in September.