The Forbes Magpies will welcome back a huge amount of experience in the 2022 season and coach Cameron Greenhalgh expects it to make a huge difference.
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The Magpies struggled for much of the 2021 Group 11 season, winning just two of 13 matches, and that was largely due to the lack of experience in the side and the amount of young players stepping up to first grade for the first time.
It was a steep learning curve for the players but the lessons learned there, combined with a host of players returning to the Magpies this year, and the chance to play in a new competition is already creating plenty of excitement within the club and community.
Premiership winners like Jake Grace and Ben Robinson have come out of retirement to pull the black and white jersey of the Magpies on again this season while Brad McMillan has returned to the club after a season with Eugowra in the Woodbridge Cup.
On top of that, Richard Fui is among those coming back from Fiji to play for Forbes again while new recruits Dawson Nanai and Alvin Maungaati are expected to arrive in town this week.
There's plenty of know-how within that group of players and their desire is already rubbing off on the club's younger players at training.
"Players who have the experience and who know what to do to get the job done make a big difference," Greenhalgh said.
"Especially the young blokes who are coming into grade for the first time.
"And someone like Jake Grace, everyone wants to play with him."
Grace is already catching the eye during the pre-season sessions.
A real fan favourite at the Magpies, the hard-working back-rower will run out for the Magpies for the first time since leading the club to a second premiership in three seasons in 2018.
"Jake Grace is the biggest and fittest I've seen him in a long time, so that's scary," Greenhalgh said.
"Anyone who knows Jake knows he doesn't do anything by halves. If he commits to football then he'll be in the best physical shape he can be. He's got himself bigger and stronger and no-one pushes themselves as hard as Jake."
A big reason why players like Grace and Robinson have returned is the chance to play in the Peter McDonald Premiership.
The new western-wide competition will pit clubs from Group 11 and Group 10 against each other.
Forbes is down to play the Mudgee Dragons, Bathurst Panthers, Cowra Magpies, and Orange Hawks in its crossover matches.
"Something needed to happen and it's a reason why some players are coming back," Greenhalgh said.
"It's really good and I think that's why there's plenty of buzz around Forbes at the moment.
"I think you'll see a lot of people getting to games to watch and I know I can't wait for it to happen."
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