There's been a lot of disappointment for Ross McDermott and the Macquarie Raiders in recent months but the upcoming western-wide under 18s competition has sparked much excitement within the club.
The Raiders were one of the clubs most keen for senior competition to go ahead this year that won't be the case after both Group 11 and a propsed western senior tournament were both canned due to the impact of COVID-19.
The Raiders will still be on show on the field this year though in the 13-team juniors competition while the league tag outfit could also be in action.
"If there's been one bit of good news from a rugby league perspective it's the the juniors going ahead," Macquarie president Ross McDermott said.
"They're the future of Group 11."
McDermott said in a perfect world the sides from Group 11 and Group 10 would be able to play against each other more this year but the distance between many of the locations makes that difficult.
Instead, the competition will feature three conferences with the top two sides from each and the two best third-placed sides moving through to the eight-team finals series.
Last year's Group 10 grand finalists Bathurst St Pat's and Bathurst Panthers will join Lithgow, Orange Hawks and Orange CYMS in the eastern pool, while the southern pool features the 2019 Group 11 premiers Forbes, Cowra, Canowindra and Parkes.
The exact make-up of the finals and the official fixtures are expected to be finalised this week but Macquarie has been pooled with Dubbo rivals CYMS, Wellington, and Mudgee.
"Once it's all settled there's going to be some good football," McDermott said.
"It will be the focus and in Group 11 we've always tried to make it a focus and moved junior games forward in semis because they can be the best games of the day.
"There's still some talking to do but I'm hoping we could organise some double-headers or have three or four games in the one place on the same day."
McDermott added Macquarie's under 18s league tag side could also take to the field this year as part of a short competition with Group 10 clubs but the competition is yet to be confirmed.
The Raiders' side for the western-wide 18s competition will look much different to the juniors outfit which missed out on Group 11 finals last year.
The bulk of the side will be made-up by players who have progressed from last season's premiership-winning South Dubbo under 16s side.
The side has been at work in modified training sessions for a number of weeks but, in line with NSWRL guidelines, all side can resume contact training from Wednesday ahead of competition starting on the weekend of July 18.
The real disappointment for McDermott is there will be no senior side joining them.
"You respect other clubs' views but maybe we [Group 11 and Western Rams] did call it off too early," he said.
"It's very disappointing but we have to move on and do it all next year."