The team spirit across all grades, the continued development of the women's side, and the quality of rugby on show were huge positives for the Dubbo Kangaroos this season but there's on thing president Gerald Webster and everyone at the club look back on with regret.
The sheer amount of injuries at the club derailed the season to a large extent and likely proved the difference between winning premierships and finishing the season empty-handed.
The Roos have been left to ponder what could have been in 2021 after it was announced on Monday the remainder of the Central West Rugby Union season would be abandoned due to the ongoing COVID outbreak and restrictions in regional NSW.
The Dubbo club had four sides initially qualify for finals this year. The women's side - the Roolettes - qualified for the Westfund Ferguson finals while in the Blowes Clothing Cup the second grade, third grade, and colts outfits all finished in their respective top fours.
The first grade side missed out on finals for a second successive year, largely due to a injury crisis the likes of which most people involved with the club had never witnessed before.
Having more than 20 senior players on the sideline at one time because a common occurrence while a majority of the injuries were long-term and suffered by key members of the team.
"We were definitely shattered, that's probably the best way to describe it, by injuries," club president Webster said.
"In first grade especially, there was more injuries there than anywhere else and that had a big impact on the continuity in first grade.
"I don't think there was the same team on the paddock for games all year. We were lucky with the depth in the club, given how well seconds and thirds went and that shows that depth.
"Had we kept a fair few of those top grade players on the paddock week after week we would have been in a much better position in first grade."
A more consistent first grade side would have resulted in more consistent lineups in second and third grade as well and that could have made the difference between second-place finishes and minor premierships and, in turn, premierships in a year where play was cut short.
As disappointing as it is for a club as proud and strong as the Roos to finish without any silverware for a second successive season, there was still plenty of positives for Webster to look at.
Just playing was a huge plus after last year's COVID lockdown resulted in the CWRU season being shorted to less than two months.
Having teams from across all grades back together at training, working together, was also pleasing and helped develop the culture.
"There was a good team spirit across the club. They trained together a lot and that helped," Webster said.
"It was a good comp and good games in all grades too. I think every club is in the same boat, there was good rugby played and people enjoyed it after such a short season last year."
The women's side was again a standout for the Roos this season.
Led by Lillyann Mason-Spice, who again earned selection in the national Wallaroos squad this year, the Roolettes finished the regular season in second spot behind fierce rivals Bathurst Bulldogs.
The two powerhouses of the competition were on track for another grand final battle but it wasn't just the quality of rugby on the field that pleased the club.
The Roolettes continue to be a rapidly-growing outfit and in just a few short years the side has gone from struggling to win a game to regular premiership contender with a squad loaded with talent and depth.
"The numbers kept going as the season went on and I think there was 27 or 28 girls by the end," Webster said.
"If we can keep them going next year they'll be that much better. Bathurst is the benchmark in terms of the team at the top and they've got experience and most of those girls have been paying together for years.
"Dubbo should, and will, be in the same boat in a few years. They'll get better and they've been loving their footy.
"They've had injuries too and that upset the apple cart towards the end of the season but they would have been full strength for the finals. so that's disappointing."
Webster said much of the credit had to go to coaches Gus McDonald and Kieran Smith, who have developed a style which the players respond to.
The Roos are now planning for a presentation night but that will depend on COVID restrictions in the coming weeks.
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