THE 2013 TAC Cup draw has been kind to Loy Yang B Gippsland Power, with eight home games scheduled for the 2012 runner-up.
This marks an increase of three home fixtures from last season, and includes a final round game in Morwell to replace their customary end of season away run.
The Power will play traditional opening round rivals Dandenong on 30 March at Morwell Football Ground, and will host a full strength Oakleigh Chargers the following week.
Power regional manager Peter Francis said back-to-back home games against tough opposition would provide an ideal measuring stick for the new playing group.
“It’s always good to get them when they’re full strength; especially earlier when the teams are fresher it gives you a really good indication of where you’re at early on and how you’re going to go,” he said.
“That game against Dandenong is always a real big one at Morwell.
“It’s a big day because we play our under 16s as a curtain raiser as well so it’s always a massive crowd and it’s a good way to start off the year.”
With several talented senior players missing out in the AFL draft, the Power has applied to AFL Victoria to include five under 19s in their squad for the first time this season.
Josh Cashman, Kaine Allen, Josh Scott, Ben Kearns and Tom Muir will all get a chance at draft redemption if the club’s application is successful, and will likely be rotated through the Power and Casey Scorpions ranks through the season.
“With the draft and the way it went we’ve been left with a plethora of talent,” Francis said.
“They’re tall, athletic kids; they were highly sought after at the draft but missed out at the draft and the rookie draft because there were 40 less rookies.
“All these guys fit into the criteria (for the under 19 rule); they’re all late babies, a couple of them were late into the program, (and) they’re not going to hinder anyone else’s chances.
After finishing desperately short of the flag in 2012, Francis said aiming for the premiership was part of club culture, but the main focus was preparing players for the draft.
Aiding them on that journey will be coach Nick Stevens, who is returning as coach despite attention from several league clubs.
“He felt he needed another season under his belt and wanted to coach and not go in as an assistant or development coach,” Francis said.
“We’re over the moon about it.”
The initial Power squad of 130 was culled to 65 at Christmas with the final team to be announced just prior to the season opener.
The new crop of emerging Power stars includes All Australian AIS player Bohdi Walker, Lucas Webb of Caulfield Grammar, and Jordan Cunico from Traralgon.
Training will resume at the end of January, but a select group of 30 will be tested in a week-long altitude camp at Mt Hotham from 21 to 27 January. A majority of players who took part in the 2012 pre-season hiking expedition were included in the first string team.