Experienced Yarrawonga midfielder Matt Gorman says the club’s young guns are the best batch in his time.
The Pigeons boast talented teenagers Ely Smith, Bailey Frauenfelder and James Jordon, while James Elliott and Jess Koopman are among the group in their early 20s.
“I probably looked at myself as a bit of a young bloke (he’s 26), but now, seven years in, I look back and see the kids like Koopman and those boys have been there for a while now and the more opportunities they get, the more they improve,” he said.
“It’s hard not to think it’s the best young group I’ve played with.”
The youthful Pigeons play an exciting brand and there’s nobody more unpredictable than the freakishly talented Koopman.
“I think with ‘Koop’, the playing group always knew that his best footy was unbelievable, but what we wanted to get was consistency from him,” Gorman said.
“I think any small forward sometimes has the attitude, ‘well, it’s not my day’, but we wanted to work with Jess and even if it’s not his day early, he can still contribute.
“He’s our best pressure forward and he hits the scoreboard.
“I think he’s probably always had it, I guess, he probably just picked when he wanted to use it, whereas now he’s probably using it a hell of a lot more.”
Koopman, 22, kicked a career-high nine goals against Corowa-Rutherglen in round seven and he’ll have another chance at home on Saturday to torment the Roos.
The Pigeons are unlikely to avoid the elimination final in three weeks, even with three straight wins to finish the season, but like a number of clubs trailing ladder leaders Albury, the players are striving to adopt the Tigers’ ruthlessness.
“We’re at the point where we’re getting some senior players back and we need to play with as much consistency as we can,” Gorman said.
“That creates habits, Albury play the same regardless of who they play.”
Gorman is back in after being unavailable last week, while Brad O’Connor has played just one game after missing more than three months with a broken thumb.
The Roos will start outsiders, but they’ll look to regain some form after being hammered by the Tigers by 152 points.
The visitors have winnable games against Wodonga (home) and North Albury (away) in the final two rounds and will need to find some confidence.
If the Roos do win their last two and finish with five, it would be a superb year after two winless seasons.
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