At first glance the departure lounge at Macquarie looks much busier than the touch down bar but new Raiders coach Wes Middleton isn't worried.
Far from it, in fact.
In just his second season as a head coach after debuting with the clipboard at Narromine in season 2018, Middleton's arrival at south Dubbo has fast-tracked the Macquarie club's much-publicised culture shift.
Where a perceived lack of dedication and a casual attitude to training seemed to rule the roost in the past, Middleton, a personal trainer, is a stickler for attention to detail, hard work and dedication to the cause.
That cause in 2019 is rocketing the club back into finals contention.
LISTEN: Check out what new Macquarie coach Wes Middleton had to say ahead of his new job in 2019
And despite losing last year's coach Dylan Hill (Narromine) and the likes of Kurt Fuller (Westside), Jade Hooper (Westside), Etuate Gusivalu (Westside), Jai Merritt (Nyngan), Ash Widders (Nyngan), John Ciappara (Dubbo CYMS) and Jayden Merritt (Dubbo CYMS) to a variety of Group 11 rivals, Middleton is unwavering in his quest.
"We want to finish in that top two," Middleton told The Get 'Em Onside podcast.
He knows the club has the squad to do just that, too.
“We’re happy with what we have, any other (players) that come are a bonus," he added.
... you either want to come and do the hard work or find a new club, pretty much.Wes Middleton.
"Coming to a new club it’s important we develop guys that want to be here, that’s what I’m about.
"You can’t force blokes to be here. You want blokes who that want to be here. And that’s what we’re about."
Macquarie has linked with Beau Satrick and Lui Lockington for this season, though, for latter tipped to star by his new coach.
Lockington is a towering outside back with speed to burn, while Satrick is also set to add some spark to the Macquarie backs. He's a cousin of NSW Blues gun Josh Addo-Carr.
Both have experience in Queensland Cup.
"Being able to play in a system anywhere … these younger guys coming through (at Macquarie) - we’re working with South Dubbo and our 18s - that’s where they want to be, these guys can give them their experience and tips on what to do and what it’s like. It plays a major part in developing our club," Middleton enthused.
The club also picked up Forbes' grand final hero Farren Lamb early in the off-season, before the young half decided on a move to Bathurst.
He'll play 2019 with Group 10 club Oberon.
Middleton wished Lamb all the best for the new year and stressed, again, despite swinging and missing on a big name recruit the Raiders would improve on their sixth-place finish last winter.
“We have a healthy roster, I’m not searching for halves. I’m confident in the boys we have," he said.
“We’ll have a top 25 roster. Players can be easily replaced … you either want to come and do the hard work or find a new club, pretty much.
“We must get to training and put in the hours. It’ll show during the season who’s put in the hard work.”
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