GIPPSLAND Power is set to hit the road for the opening month of the 2016 TAC Cup season in a polar opposite to last year’s campaign launch.
The TAC Cup draw, released last week, designated the Power just one home game in the first four rounds, interspersed with a Victoria Country development weekend after round two.
It marks a backflip from last season’s draw which had the Power on home soil in four of its five opening matches.
The Power will host Dandenong Stingrays for round one at Morwell on 26 March before away games against Bendigo, Geelong and Murray Bushrangers, with a return home in round five against Calder Cannons.
Head coach Leigh Brown said travelling early in the season was an opportunity to accelerate team bonding with a young crop expected to dominate the under 18 ranks.
“That time together is going to be really important. The overnight stays (at Bendigo and Geelong) gives the group a chance to spend some more time together,” Brown said.
“We’ll have to manage them in terms of their workload and the toll the travel will take on them early on but I think it’s going to be an exciting time and hopefully they can bond a lot quicker.
“I think we’re going to be a reasonably young squad so that time together could hold us in really good stead not only this year, but for a couple of years.”
The Power has again been allocated eight home games in the 18 round competition, maintaining its 2014 quota.
After hosting four of its five opening games, and two of its last three, this year the Morwell based club received a more even distribution for 2016.
“At the end of the day we’ve still got the same amount of home games it’s just a different way of managing it now,” Brown said.
“We had a lot of travel later in the year and some bigger trips (this season) whereas now it’s probably a bit more spread out.”
No interstate game this year will also relieve travel pressure following a trip to Queensland in 2015.
Power concluded satellite training last week and will stage fitness training today for its squad, which is now down to about 80 still vying for a place in the senior program.
A select group of 20 will attend an altitude camp at Mt Hotham in January prior to centralised Morwell training and the selection of a final squad.
The new Gippsland Power girls academy program has wrapped up for the calendar year following a block of six sessions.
Brown said the inaugural girls’ program, headed up by Scott McDougal with assistance from Peter Francis and Chelsea Caple, had proved fruitful to date.
“They’re going really well. They’re really enthusiastic and I think they’ve really improved especially their kicking and also their fitness,” Brown said.
“It’s a very good program and one we think is up there with the best of them in the state.”
For the full 2016 fixture visit the TAC Cup website.