New Wagga City Wanderers senior coach Dave Leonard couldn't be happier with his first look at what 2021 might have in store after close to 50 players trialled for spots in the top two teams.
The Wanderers have named 31 players in a senior men's train-on squad, a group which will form the basis of their open and under 23 teams which will both mount a premiership defence in Canberra's NPL Two competition.
"We had huge numbers which was really, really pleasing. A couple of years of success is starting to work to our advantage," Leonard said.
"For the first time we've had to cull players to pick a train-on squad. We're waiting for a couple of other players we're working on through January and then we'll cut the squad even further at the back end of January."
There's a youthful look to the squad as the Wanderers begin to reap the benefits of a development program that has come of age.
"It's definitely pleasing to see some new faces but also pleasing to see some of the younger guys back, guys who got to play first grade last year and got a lot of experience at the back end of the season when it quite intense," Leonard said.
The Wanderers have won the last two under 23 grand finals under Leonard while Michael Babic steered the first grade side to a dramatic premiership this year, claiming victory over Yoogali in a penalty shoot-out, before stepping down as coach.
"Thanks to Mike Babic, he's put a lot of pressure on me, winning the GF in his first year. But look, he set a really good platform and a really solid base," Leonard said.
"I think with the addition of a couple of other key players, if we manage to get hold of them, will put us in good stead."
Leonard said they'd like to add some experienced heads to balance the young players in their group.
"As far as youthfulness is concerned, we're full of it," Leonard said.
"And the pleasing thing is they're just quality. Some of the guys who'll come in this year it would've been good to see them playing over the last few years.
"That being said, it's just good to see them there this year."