If the Dubbo Kangaroos were in the situation they currently are at this time last season, there would be some concerns in the camp.
But the improved depth at the club and the development of young players has the side in a strong position despite a host of stars being unavailable for Saturday's Westfund Ferguson Cup meeting with Orange City.
Captain LillyAnn Mason-Spice - who was recently named in an extended Wallaroos squad - and Kim Fyfe will both miss the game after earning a spot in the Brumbies' Super W squad while some younger players are unavailable as they're away on Combined High Schools (CHS) representative duty.
It's not the first time players like Mason-Spice and Fyfe have missed games this season but the Roos still head into Saturday's match sitting at the top of the ladder with an unbeaten record.
"Again it will be the young ones stepping up to hold down the fort and it's nice to see because they do step up," Roos coach Angus McDonald said.
"The thing for me is we've now got 27 registered when last year we had 17. The amount of interest from girls in Dubbo is really good and the youth is as well.
"The most pleasing thing for me is the amount of depth and the enthusiasm."
The Roos completed an undefeated regular season last year but fell short in a shock grand final loss to Bathurst Bulldogs.
That was largely due to the lack of depth and the huge impact a serious knee injury to Mason-Spice had on the group.
Now, as McDonald says, new players are stepping up and a number of them are youngsters who are new to the game.
Mia Taylor and Ashanti Pennell have joined the side and made an immediate impact and that form is already resulting in representative recognition.
"It's great and the more girls from the Central West we can get into rep pathways the better," McDonald added.
There's a number of players across the entire Westfund Ferguson Cup who have reached the Super W previously and have had more access to top level coaching.
That, in turn, has helped those players make an impact at their local clubs and improve the quality of rugby in the region.
"The standard across the competition has improved," McDonald said of this season.
"Orange City has improved a fair bit. They're a good young side. They only went down to Dogs by a couple tries and to (Orange) Emus by a try so that's good for them and good for the comp."
Saturday's match kicks off at 1pm at No. 1 Oval.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: