A late replacement turned into premiership success and now Nick McCarthy is back for more.
McCarthy will be at the helm as Waratahs look to defend their Southern Inland crown in 2024.
After initially linking with the club as an assistant to coach Jonno Andreou, McCarthy stepped into the head coaching position during the pre-season.
It was the start to their run to their first premiership since 2019.
McCarthy enjoyed the season so much he never really considered not having another.
"It was a lot of fun this year and I really enjoyed getting my hands into club footy again," McCarthy said.
"Working across a whole season for a major goal, being able to set some targets early and working with the playing group on reaching them was really exciting.
"It was a really satisfying end of the year for us."
McCarthy is now looking to build on their success after ending Wagga City's reign with a 26-10 victory in the grand final.
"I think the players really enjoyed what we put together as a group and the results showed," he said.
"We will be looking to grow on that next year.
"We have to get second grade up to the same level performance wise at the back end of the season as first grade and hopefully with some good continuity we can achieve that."
Their second grade side was narrowly beaten in the preliminary final last year.
Waratahs are also looking to return to the third grade fold this season.
McCarthy is confident the club has enough depth.
"It looks like we will probably have the numbers for third grade," he said.
"I suppose it comes a lot down to what Southern Inland wants to do and what the other clubs are looking at doing but I think if we can continue the excitement the players had at the back end of last season then we will have the numbers for three grades."
However Waratahs are expecting some turnover.
Jayden Stanton announced his retirement before the grand final, Josh Gemmell and Harrison Darley are set to move away for work opportunities while Josh Allen and Calum Marr, who both missed the preliminary final and grand final, have also transferred away.
Marr won the club's best and fairest award this season but McCarthy is confident they can overcome the losses.
"They were both pretty disappointed to only be here for one year but it's great both of them have received promotions within the army," he said.
"They are going to leave big holes as well but I think we showed come grand final day our depth was good enough to cover that and we will be looking to continue that theory of a big squad with big depth next season."
Waratahs are also now the hunted, which comes with some different challenges in itself.
It's something McCarthy is looking forward to having to contend with.
"When you are chasing you can see your target point," he said.
"When you are in front and people are chasing you you know they are going to be doing things to make life difficult for you and you don't have as easily a predetermined position of where you need to be to continue moving forward.
"We will rejig what we do next season, a bit of our messaging and theming will be different in trying to improve as to last season where we just chased Wagga City and Ag College at certain times, looking at what they were doing and the way we needed to be level or ahead of them in different areas.
"In saying that as the year goes on we will see what the strengths of the opposition are and what we need to do to nullify them.
"I think it starts very differently and then we just have to really hold ourselves accountable moving forward to make sure we are doing the right things."
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