"Fitness, fitness, and more fitness. I can't wait."
CYMS captain-coach Jarryn Powyer knows exactly what his side needs in the lead-up to the start of the Group 11 season.
The Dubbo side's third foray into the statewide Challenge Cup came to an end in Sunday's Challenge Cup, as Wyong scored a determined 24-8 win at Apex Oval.
While Wyong deserved the win after a consistent and controlled performance under the fine leadership of captain-coach and halfback Mitch Williams, CYMS was scrappy for much of the contest.
New combinations played a role, with halfback Claude Gordon still finding his place in the side while Corey Cox, Alex Bonham, and Wade Kavanagh were all shifted around.
But fitness levels and ball skills, as expected this time of year, left a little to be desired.
Many CYMS players were noticeably exhausted late in the contest and were down on their haunches during stoppages in play and Powyer admitted it had been tricky to balance fitness and ball work in the lead-up to the game.
"A lot of our hit-ups lost a little sting," he said, Wyong having controlled the second half.
"So it's fitness and when you've got these early games you get in the mindset of either busting ourselves in fitness or working on the footy and you end up not doing either too well.
"We haven't hammered the fitness and we haven't hammered the ball work but we can focus on fitness now and see the ball work later."
It's only the second game and it's rusty but I'm happy with it.Jarryn Powyer
There's roughly two months before the Group 11 season proper begins, and the CYMS players can expect to get plenty of kilometres in the legs between now and then.
As Powyer pointed out, the go-forward dropped off a little in Sunday's match and with Wyong staying on the front foot for much of the second half it put pressure on CYMS halves Gordon and Cox.
Cox was playing in the number six jersey after spending much of his time in recent seasons in the centres or second-row and while that's where he's likely to end up again, getting him the chance to run the ball more is the goal in 2020.
"We all know 'Coxy' is a killer runner of the ball and that's what we plan to do with him this season. We want him working and hitting it up," Powyer said, before expanding on Sunday's performance.
"We've got some new halves and hooker combinations there that haven't developed. It's only the second game and it's rusty but I'm happy with it.
"I'm not happy with the loss by any means but I'm happy with we're where at and it's onward and upward from here."
CYMS hosts Narromine in the opening round of the Group 11 season on the weekend of April 25.