Bowral Blacks will be looking to call upon a mix of incoming and local talent as the club gears up for their 50th year.
With the 2021 Illawarra Rugby Union season called off due to the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown, attention has turned to preparing for the 2022 campaign.
In a year that will mark half a century for the Blacks, the Southern Highlands is likely to continue growing as Sydneysiders flock to the region.
Head coach Greg Mumm said he expected a mix of new and former players to put their hands up for selection.
"The great move south is doing that [recruiting] for us naturally," he told the Southern Highland News.
"I'm sure we'll keep an eye out. Having a real estate agent in Gene Fairbanks coaching, we usually know who's coming in.
"We have some local players as well who have played in the past, including the 2018 premiership, and are very attracted to being part of the club's 50th year next year."
It was a mixed year for the senior arm of the club with first grade fighting against a heavy injury toll whilst second grade were primed for a title challenge, sitting in third when the league was called off.
Mumm said that while the right call was made, it was frustrating for the playing group.
"We were one of the lucky clubs, one of only three that were allowed to keep training," he explained.
"Second grade were in a very good position to try and win a premiership, first grade were still mathematically a chance of making the finals so we were still working away.
"The guys had actually done quite a lot of work for those four weeks between when they called the first lockdown and cancelled the comp.
"[We're] frustrated but it was obviously a fair outcome for the comp given that some other guys had been in lockdown for five or six weeks by the time they cancelled the competition. It is what it is but disappointing for second grade particularly."
Mumm said the first grade coaching staff would review several aspects of the team's preparation ahead of 2022 but was hopeful some tough lessons handed out would bear fruit next season.
"We had about six or seven season-ending injuries in a 10-week block," he revealed.
"Going into next year we probably have to look at why that is and how we get the players ready to minimise that.
"When you have an injury it does two things, it disrupts the team but it also shines a torch on the experience of the person filling their shoes. So when you're bringing up inexperienced or younger players quite often it leads to inconsistency.
"The other thing would be how we bring through our younger guys. One of the really positive parts of this season was the number of people we had involved in total. We were able to field a colts team, third grade, second grade and firsts.
"A lot of those younger players got some experience in first and second grade during the season. We had a young guy, Caelan Barker, who ended up playing four or five games on the wing for first grade out of colts and we had four or five other colts who got time in first or second grade.
"It was a real positive seeing young local guys come through the system."
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