New Junee captain-coach Dane Nielsen is not taking big expectations into the West Wyalong Knockout.
The former Queensland State Of Origin player has started to settle into to his new role, but it has had a few interruptions.
With a number of players doing shift work plus Nielsen heading home to Mackay for a family funeral, it has been a disjointed start since the NRL premiership winner arrived three weeks ago.
However he believes the knockout will be a good learning experience.
“The main thing is getting the numbers and training together, working out our combos and what is going to be or best fit,” Nielsen said.
“We’ve been doing a fair bit of fitness.
“We are just getting a few combinations together in the last couple of training sessions.
“We’ve been working a fair bit on defence and this is obviously pretty new to me and I’ve haven’t played with these boys or in this comp at all.
“But the boys are looking forward and haven’t been in it for a couple of years.”
By placing a bigger emphasis on emphasis on fitness, Nielsen is not expecting too slick a performance next weekend.
While a number of players are in the Junee touch competition, match experience is something else.
“It has been a long time since everyone has played footy,” Nielsen said.
“It will be interesting but we will just take it as it comes and get a bit of a guide on how the comp is and how we are going to go as a team.”
Nielsen is still trying to work out what training days work best for the club in an attempt to get as many players there as possible.
“I’ve been able to get to a few sessions but it has been a little bit hard with a couple of boys doing shift work, he said.
Junee are also looking to build on their depth but are yet to secure anymore new.
The Diesels pulled out of last year’s knockout and while new to the region, Nielsen know there will be quality opposition.
He’s also far from the only former NRL player involved with Josh Starling linking with Luke Branighan’s Oberon Tigers while former South Sydney back Dylan Farrell is with Nowra.
“It is a strong competition,” he said.
“It is going to be a tough competition but for us it is going to be about putting our best foot forward, have a crack and when we finally get a ball in our hands it will be the first time the boys have played in a while so I won’t be surprised if everyone is a bit rusty.”