By Tara Murray
Hoppers Crossing coach Steve Kretiuk is excited about the young talent coming into the senior side for next year’s Western Region Football League division 1 season.
A perennial finalist, the Warriors will be boosted by more than half a dozen players stepping up from the under-18 premiership side.
Kretiuk said it had been a number of years since they had a group like this coming through.
“We’ve had a good influx of under-18s come up and train really well with us,” he said.
“We have about seven or eight who could play a lot of games.
“Having this is great, not just for next year or the year after, but for the next 10 years. There’s some good quality players.
“They will be putting pressure on the other guys and there will be competition for spots.”
The under-18 team has joined the senior team through some of the pre-season so far.
Kretiuk said they hadn’t done that for a while, with both teams taking a lot out of it.
He said the playing group had come back to pre-season in good shape.
“We’re averaging 40 to 50 players at training. We asked them for a little bit more and the group has come back looking good.”
Kretiuk said the big test would come over the Christmas break when the players had to put in all the work by themselves.
The coach said they had identified a couple of areas that needed to be addressed for next season.
One was fitness, another was that they fell short in the midfield,
They have looked to fill the midfield deficit with two recruits.
Former AFL player Patrick Veszpremi has committed to the club full-time, while Hayden Walters, who has been on VFL lists, has also signed.
Walters is coming back from a knee reconstruction in 2018.
Kretiuk said the signing of Veszpremi was massive.
“Getting Patrick is fairly big and he brings leadership into the side, being an ex-Sydney and Western Bulldogs player.
“He has been outstanding at training and training at a high standard.
“Sometimes guys come back from a higher level and take the foot off the pedal, he has gone to another level.
“He has shone already and hasn’t played a game.”
The Warriors finished the regular season fourth and were knocked out in an elimination final by rivals Werribee Districts.
Kretiuk said they know where they sit. “We were pretty disappointed how we finished this year,” he said.
“We’re under no illusions we have to improve and part of that improvement has to come from within.”
Hoppers Crossing will kick of their season next year against Sunshine at home on April 4.
They have a blockbuster on Anzac Day playing Wyndham rivals, Werribee Distircts.
The Tigers start their season against Spotswood on April 4, while Point Cook hosts Yarraville-Seddon on the same day