THE Gunnedah Bulldogs will head into their round three AFL North West clash against the New England Nomads on Saturday full of confidence after winning their opening two matches.
A big reason for the Dogs' undefeated start to the season has been a trio of the side's youngest members.
Jasper Thomas, Tom Maher and Hayden Baker have made a significant impact for the side in just their second year of football.
The trio joined the club last year and helped guide the Bulldogs to a grand-final appearance against the Inverell Saints, and have continued that good form this season.
"After the first two games, we are looking pretty solid with two big wins on the board," Baker told the Leader.
"It's been a really good start for us."
Thomas agreed, adding the side's handball game had been a feature of the two wins.
"I'd say our game plan has been working out pretty well so far. We have been using our running game and everything has come together pretty well," he said.
Meanwhile, the absence of key defenders - Andy Mack, Patrick Higgins and Oliver Neader - has seen Maher take on a new role this season.
"I've had to start playing as a key backman a bit more this season, which has been good," Maher said.
"To be honest, it's a big challenge but I am really enjoying it. It's a lot different from last year, but we have some new faces down back and we are up for the challenge."
The trio came into the 2019 season after being part of the region's Northern Heat representative squad program.
"It was really cool to be playing against the best of the best in our age group," Baker said.
"I think it has really helped me take a lot of confidence into our weekend games.
"Hopefully we can continue to use what we learned from that experience and keep putting out for the Dogs on the weekends."
Thomas said the Northern Heat experience had helped "develop my game sense".
"I think it really helped with my match awareness and what to do in certain situations," he said.
"Going forward, I think it will keep helping me make good decisions on the weekend's for Gunnedah."
Maher said being with the Northern Heat had improved his fitness significantly.
"The type of training we did really helped get us ready for the season," he said.
"It was a big positive to come out of it and I'm really glad I got to be a part of it."