THEY'VE waited 28 seasons, so what's another year?
That's the message from Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes, who will look to use being denied a chance to break their flag drought as a huge spur to get the job done in 2022.
AFL Riverina's decision to cancel the season on Sunday wasn't unexpected, but it was still a bitter pill for teams like the Goannas who had dominated all year, but won't get a result.
Goannas president Jesse Cunningham said it was vital the club's players, coaches and volunteers didn't view 2021 as a lost cause, but use the foundations put in place to be a heavyweight again next year.
Seven of MCUE's eight teams made finals, including their first grade netballers who were looking to defend their premiership.
"It's obviously very disappointing to hear that news. To a degree we were expecting it and knew it was always a strong possibility of happening, but it doesn't make it that much easier to digest," Cunningham said.
"It's a wonderful effort by all our teams. We had seven of eight teams in the finals and our netballers were looking to retain their title.
"It definitely makes it a bit more disappointing having teams represent you in finals, and now all we can think about is 'what if?'. But you can't dwell on it for too long, you got to push forward for a bigger and better 2022 season."
Cunningham has no doubt the lack of closure will only make the club more determined to get the monkey off their backs in 12 months' time.
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"You've got to put a big emphasis on making sure the players understand all the work they've put in isn't for nothing," Cunningham said.
"They've created some really strong habits, especially training wise and to have two COVID affected years it's a bit tricky to judge when you ramp up things for next season.
"In the back of people's minds they still feel like they've got a job to do, to try and push for that first flag.
"It (season cancellation) was just out of the AFL's control. It was a credit to AFL and all the clubs to leave no stone unturned to try and get a conclusion."
Like most clubs, MCUE have used the unexpected downtime to tend to player and coaching retention.
The club is yet to formalise their first grade coaching structure for next year, but Canberra recruit Dom Bunyan is among the key players who have already officially committed for 2022.
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