The signs are already looking positive for the Western Rams months out from the junior country championships.
Western Rams under 16s and 18s sides will again contest the Andrew Johns Cup and Laurie Daley Cup respectively in February and March, with work already beginning to continue the region's proud record in the competitions.
Trials were held at Forbes earlier this month and extended squads have been selected.
There's plenty of motivation among players and coaches given the 2020 cup campaigns were cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier in the year.
That eagerness has clearly been on show during the trials and recent academy sessions given returning coaches Tony Woolnough (under 16s) and Kurt Hancock (under 18s) were so satisfied by the effort and quality on show they opted to cancel a planned training run on the weekend and give players an extended break over Christmas.
"A lot of kids with Rams last year had their season cut short at finals so that was pretty disappointing and they're champing at the bit to have a go," NSWRL's Western regional manager Evan Jones said.
Both squads, and an under 17s development squad, will be back in action on January 7 for a testing day while a welfare session will follow before trial games against Riverina at Forbes on January 16.
The final squads will be confirmed after that before the Rams sides start their cup campaigns at Cowra on February 7.
Both Hancock and Woolnough have long associations with Rams juniors, the former having secured title glory with under 16s in 2017 and 2018, while both coached their respective sides to the grand finals in 2019, and both were still in contention heading into the semi-finals this season before COVID struck.
"It's really good for us and we're very fortunate to have coaches of that calibre and they compliment each other," Jones said.
"Kurt has the really strong personal relationships and mentors while Tony is good at introducing players into the rep program and talking about extra responsibility and commitment.
"They work a lot together with a combined 16s and 18s squad, as well."
The Rams welcome the Illawarra South Coast Dragons to Cowra to start the cup campaigns next year before a round two meeting with Riverina in Leeton.
After that a rare representative match in Narromine will be played as the Rams welcome the Macarthur Wests Tigers to Cale Oval before a meeting with Monaro at Mudgee's Glen Willow the following weekend.
The group stage then ends with matches against the Northern Tigers in Tamworth on March 6 before the finals.
"We definitely like to spread it out as much as well can," Jones said of Rams' home game locations.
"It's good for the local communities and those clubs too, they might be able to run the canteen or do a raffle for some fundraising.
"There's a good spread of players who have to travel a lot and don't always get to play in front of their home fans. There will be a few Cowra kids in the teams and kids from Narromine, Gilgandra, and Dubbo so for them to play in front of local crowd will give a bit of a buzz."