With the influx of premiership players returning to the Shepparton Swans this year, there has been one youngster who has thrived in their company.
Talented teenager Nathan Rachele has stood up to the task in his first season out of junior ranks.
He has been rubbing shoulders with the likes of premiership stars Quade Johnstone, Tom Preece, Andrew Riordan and Mitch Bell.
The quick midfielder has played every game this season — along with fellow youngsters Zac Alderton and Tyreece Collison — after playing six games while in the under-18s.
Rachele said there was extra energy around the club this year, one in which it ended its 603-day losing streak.
‘‘The feeling is so much better than last year,’’ Rachele said.
‘‘You just know that the vibe is right.
‘‘It’s really great having all the boys come back who had some success with the club.’’
The Swans welcomed back a plethora of premiership stars in the off-season.
However, Rachele revealed there were two he had enjoyed playing alongside the most.
‘‘I’ve tried to learn off both Quade and Tom the most,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s been really good learning off them after coming out of the midfield from the under-18s.
‘‘It’s a lot quicker, that’s pretty much the biggest difference I’ve found.
‘‘But I’m really enjoying it at the moment.’’
Like most juniors rising out of the under-18 level, Rachele had some things he confessed he needed to work on.
He said his fitness had been a big focus of his in the past year, highlighting summer runs with fellow youngster Luke Whyte.
‘‘It’s been mainly my fitness, that has been a big priority of mine,’’ he said.
‘‘Both me and Luke would train together over summer, it’s better to have someone else beside you to suffer with.’’
Asked about the drought-breaking win against Mooroopna, Rachele said he was confident before the match had begun.
‘‘I had a pretty good feeling before the match that we could do it,’’ he said.
‘‘It was just so good to get some reward for the club and the supporters.
‘‘And for us players as well, it was a nice little reward for all the hard work we put in over the pre-season.
‘‘Hopefully there are a few more for the rest of the season.’’