Dubbo CYMS coach Shawn Townsend is not fully sure what to expect from the Group 10 teams this season but knows he has a few young stars ready to fire.
CYMS will travel to Orange on Sunday to take on the Hawks at Pride Park in the opening round of the Peter McDonald Premiership, a competition which has combined Group 10 and 11 for 2022.
After a long pre-season and several trial matches, Townsend knows his side is eager to get back on the field and believes there are a few young stars who could make a big impact for CYMS this season.
"I've been super impressed with a couple of kids, as in the two Cleary boys (Mitchell and Jaymn), Jordi Madden, Tom Stimpson and Sullivan Haycock," he said.
"I'm pretty excited about those kids playing, they were really good in the under 21s competition and they will be good in this comp as well. They're young, fit and keen."
CYMS were sitting at the top of the table in 2021 when COVID ended the season and Townsend admitted he has given the squad a big pre-season ahead of their opening match.
It will be CYMS' depth which could prove vital to their title chances this season with off-season signing Tom Hughes all but out for the entire season after tearing his pectoral in a trial match, an injury which required surgery.
Apart from Hughes, key forwards Ben Marlin and Billy Sing will also miss Sunday's match with Tom Stimpson set to partner Jarryn Powyer in the front row.
Townsend believes Jayden Merritt could be in for a big season and he will start alongside Peter Karydis and Jaymn Cleary in the back-row.
Across the backline, CYMS have star power everywhere with centres Jyie Chapman and Jeremy Thurston two of the best-attacking weapons in Group 11 last season.
The CYMS mentor admitted ahead of the opening match of the season that he did not know a whole about Orange Hawks but he is confident his side will be in for a tough match to start the year.
"I think they beat Parkes in a trial game a couple of weeks ago, I think Parkes will be a good side so if that's an indication then they will be good," he said.
"But you still don't know a lot about them at the moment, I haven't seen a team sheet.
"I don't know a lot about the Group 10 players unless there is a name that stands out.
"But my expectations are that they are going to be good, we are playing for them to be challenging up there as well."
Jordi Madden, Mitchell Cleary and James Stanley will come off the bench alongside the experienced Brydon Ramien to provide a spark once the game opens up.
Saturday's match will kick off at 2:30pm at Pride Park.
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