East Wagga-Kooringal's injury crisis has opened a window into the future at Gumly.
In a squad laden with big names, from ex-AFL player Chris Ladhams to multiple league medallists Nick Hull and Chris Gordon and accomplished footballers like Chris Jackson, Ben Absolum and Trent Garner, the Hawks have unveiled some new players to watch.
"The kids have been outstanding," EWK coach Matt Hard said.
"I shouldn't call them kids - they're young men -. and we've had to play quite a few this year. They've all shown something. We're throwing them big tasks and they're punching above their weight which is great to see."
In just a handful of first grade appearances, Max Tiernan looks at home at centre-half-back. So much so that when he's on the injury list this week (concussion) it already looks a gaping hole.
But the back six still includes two more under 17s: Kyle Hockley who showed the poise and courage of a veteran last week, going back with the flight of the ball to take a contested mark in a tense final term against North Wagga; and Hayden Nelson, who earned praise from Hard for the "very good job" he did on dangerous Saints forward Troy Curtis last week.
"It's been really good, a few of us young fellas carrying a bit of the load this year," Nelson said.
"The leaders of the club have been great, Brocke Argus, Ben Absolum, Trent Garner, they really lead by example. It's just been good to play with the senior boys, they show us the way.
"Matt just tells us to play our roles, keep to the fundamentals, and keep everything simple."
Harris Mitter is named on a wing for this week's game against Barellan, having stood up on a tough day out at Temora on debut and starring a week later in a hard-fought win at Coleambally.
Ryan Bourne, Cruise Chambers and Kolby McMahon are named on an extended bench this week along with Caleb Wild, who earlier this year kicked the Hawks to victory with an after-the-siren goal at North Wagga.
Callum Polsen and Harrison Leddin have also shown good signs given opportunities in first grade, and Cayleb Dunne-Argus is also pressing his case for selection.
While the Hawks have hit a couple of hurdles since their 5-and-0 start to the season, Hard says lack of continuity has been a headache, not the quality and attitude of those coming in.
"At the start of the year, we weren't making changes and were going along okay. But since that stage we've been making four or five a week," Hard said. "We can't control the injuries but we're getting a good look at some of our young talent."
The casualty ward still includes Garner, Danny Bromham, Sam and James Hodges, Matt Beasley and Jeremy Piercy, while Tom Pocock and Daniel Hitchens are also out this week.
Defender Ethan Andrews is back for the trip to Barellan while Nick Hull was named to play despite sitting out the fourth quarter last week due to a back and hamstring complaint.
The Two Blues were close to upsetting the Northern Jets last week and will make sure EWK are accountable if they're to avoid back to back losses.
"It's a dangerous time, it really is, playing Barellan over there," Hard said.
"They're hard to beat at home and having key personnel out but hopefully we can get through unscathed and reassess then.
"I think our best is still ahead of us but we've got to get players healthy and see where we're at."
Star midfielder-forward Sean Ellis kicked five for Barellan last week. Nelson, still only 17, had the job on him last year and is prepared for another big challenge on Saturday.