AFTER making his debut for the Dubbo Kangaroos on Saturday, new recruit Josh Tremain believes the Blowes Clothing Cup defending premiers can be a force again in 2015.
The Roos have been ravaged by player departures since winning the 2014 premiership but the marquee sighing of representative hooker Tremain has been a real positive.
The former Orange City captain made his debut in a low-key pre-season day involving the Mudgee Wombats and Geurie Goats at St John's College at the weekend and despite minimal training and a new-look squad, Tremain was left impressed.
"I was actually quite proud of the boys, we've been training two nights a week and numbers have been down a bit but the boys really had a good dig," he said.
"The guys who left obviously left a huge whole to fill but from what I've seen of the group and some of the guys coming back I think we're going to be quite competitive and a fairly solid side."
In warm conditions on Saturday an 80-minute match was played in quarters with the Roos, Wombats and Goats all getting some time on the park.
The Mudgee side finished as winners, seven tries to three, but the scoreline was of little importance to all the teams involved.
One thing which pleased Tremain was the way his side played in defence, with that so often the bedrock of success in Central West rugby.
"There was a lot of good commitment in running hard and some great cover tackling and last-ditch efforts in defence," he said.
"There was good discipline and some big runs which really stood out."
With Peter Nau, Scott Burgess, Brad Pugh and Tim Cullenward just some of the names no longer running around in the sky blue jersey of Dubbo, Tremain admits a leadership role within the team has been thrust upon him.
He confessed he was shocked to see a host of the Roos' best players depart the club but added he was more than willing to shoulder some responsibility in 2015.
"I was actually (shocked at the departures), as the defending premiers you usually get guys to hang around but this time a lot of people decided to leave on a high so it was a bit of a shock to lose that many," he said.
"Obviously I'm new so I don't just want to come in and seem like I'm taking over but I can lead from the front and pass on some of my experience.
"That's what I'm aiming to do."
The Dubbo Kangaroos begin their premiership defence on April 11 with a round one clash against the Narromine Gorillas but one fixture for Tremain is already standing out.
In round two Dubbo make the trip to Orange to take on his former club and the Orange City favourite is already chomping at the bit to play on a day which will be special for a number of reasons.
"I'm really looking forward to that, it's going to be quite a contest and will be a good battle," he said.
"It's actually my birthday that day so I'm hoping for a good birthday present but I know the (Orange City) boys will be out to spoil it."