EASTERN Ranges wants to end its run of losing TAC Cup seasons and this year appears to be their best chance to do so.
The Ranges have worked through an exhaustive preseason and, with a stronger list and good mix of senior and bottom age players, believe they will put a highly competitive group on the field when their season begins on Sunday.
The Ranges have already had six players selected in the provisional Vic Metro squad for the national under-18 champions. Key forward Tom Boyd is already projected to be a high first round draft pick.
But the Ranges have much better depth this season and wingman Daniel McStay thinks the real strength of his side is their strong bond, something he saw early in the preseason.
"The bottom-age players came in and trained with us towards the end of last season and it helped our team morale this season," McStay said.
"We already knew most of them so now the whole main group is tight, even the coaches have commented that we have a really strong bond in the group."
McStay said the top-age players in the team made a big effort to encourage their younger teammates, especially considering several leading players could miss matches if selected for Vic Metro or on AIS squad duty which Boyd will be for parts of the season.
"Last year we were kind of separated from top-age players," he said.
"So our main focus has been to get all the confidence up in our bottom-age guys and get them involved straightaway so they feel part of the team."
"I think the biggest thing is we don't have to be reliant on a best player.
"We have got good depth coming through, so that makes it easier for guys to stand up and take initiative.
"We all have something to prove to the competition and ourselves."
McStay, who comes from East Ringwood Juniors and Luther College in Croydon, hopes to have a consistent and injury-free season after struggling with shoulder and quad problems during the offseason.
"I'd like to have a consistent season and try to stamp my mark on the competition," he said.
"The main goal is make the Vic Metro side and get a game in the national championships, but really it will be about staying healthy and keeping on improving everything I do."
The Ranges start their TAC Cup season against Oakleigh Chargers at Visy Park at 12.30pm this Sunday.