Charles Sturt University will be without emerging midfielder Nick Wright and big man Tom Stapleton this season but coach Pat Noonan expects two recent signings to help offset the losses.
The Bushpigs have signed Sean Keith from Collingullie-Glenfield Park to play alongside his twin brother Ben and they hope the arrival of Ben Mitchell can cover ruck or key position holes.
A clearance has been submitted for Wright to head home to Culcairn while Stapleton has signed with Queanbeyan Tigers.
"Losing 'T Staples' will be massive. He's been accepted into uni over there which is good for him. But he was our ruckman most of last year and also played key forward last year. He's still a young kid but he was starting to show some really good signs," Noonan said.
"We've lost a few. It's a bit disheartening with Wrighty going too. He was starting to be one of our leaders last year but he wants to go back out to Culcairn for family reasons and those things and we understand that."
Their departures come after the loss of Louis Miller to Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong, Ben Coombe to Osborne and Liam Sweeney to Henty.
Noonan says Sean Keith's arrival is timely.
"He's a quality player and he just brings more of that Wagga depth that we need, another bloke around Wagga during holidays and things like that," Noonan said.
"He's been playing first grade at Collingullie since he was a young kid. I think he could play anywhere for us and we'll test him out. When he was younger he was on a wing or backline but we might look at him having a role in the midfield.
"But he can go anywhere, he's a strong, young body."
Noonan expects Keith will follow the pattern of his brother and Lachy Moore who both showed the value of their Riverina League experience in a young CSU outfit last year.
Mitchell comes to the club after time off but has played a tall forward role in Tamworth previously and is another who will inject maturity into the Bushpigs and could slot into Tom Stapleton's shoes.
"He's come in with a really positive attitude and been one of our best trainers with his voice and enthusiasm," Noonan said.
"It's really good getting another older head in the club and getting amongst the players. He doesn't mind playing in the ruck or doing whatever we need him to do which is good because we've learnt the last couple of years we need guys willing to do things they might never have done before."
Noonan said the club is also keen to take a good look at who's among the new year university arrivals later this month.
The Bushpigs intend to have one intra-club trial in a month before a practice match against Turvey Park on March 21 to prepare for round one against The Rock-Yerong Creek at Peter Hastie Oval.
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