Their decider appearance at last weekend's Bathurst Panthers Knockout was encouraging by anyone's standards and Orange Hawks will look to take that momentum into Saturday's Group 10 premier league season-opener, and build on it too.
Although they were bested by Jack Littlejohn's Mudgee Dragons in that final Hawks' performance, and those leading up to it, suggest the two blues are primed to hit the ground running in the season-proper, beginning with Saturday's trip to Lithgow's Tony Luchetti Sportsground.
Saturday's round one clash kicks off Hawks' bid to, ideally, go two steps better than their preliminary final finish in 2018 and they'll face an equally-as-motivated Lithgow Workies side that's looking to lift themselves out of the Group 10 doldrums after running eighth last year.
"We do take a lot of confidence from that Knockout effort because we worked hard to get to that final and we did have a few guys out, who'll come back into the team on Saturday," Hawks captain-coach Willie Heta said.
"Mudgee were very tough in that final and we couldn't quite get the job done there, but it was a good way to start.
"Duncan (Young) comes back into the side, he actually played the final after playing rugby union last week, and Rakai (Tuheke), Ethan (McKellar) and Eman (Rodriguez) all come in as well, they didn't play that final either.
We do take a lot of confidence from that Knockout effort because we worked hard to get to that final.Hawks captain-coach Willie Heta
"I'm not sure if the effects of representative footy took their toll on Rakai or Ethan but we gave them that break anyway to make sure they were ready for round one."
Although Heta said he's not entirely sure what to expect from Workies, he said he's certain they'll put up a serious fight on their home turf, as they always do.
"I didn't see much of their first grade side but I watched their reserves at the Knockout and they looked good, there was good depth and they were tough. Any club that has a good reserve grade side you can pretty sure they'll be good in first grade too," he said.
"They've recruited well so I think it'll be a tough day and we'll have our hands full trying to get the two points, but we're looking forward to it."
Heta has, as expected, named himself at five-eighth for the clash and will partner the returning Matt Boss in the halves, while boom recruit Alex Prout will make his debut at hooker.
Hawks will be without barnstorming big man Saul Houma, who's shifted to Group 9, though.
Former Australian Schoolboy rugby star Corey Brown, who was also in the national sevens system in the past, has shifted to fullback after playing in the centres in 2018, and with his pace and brute strength could prove an excitement machine given he'll have more space at the back.
"Honestly, I just want him more involved, it's a bit of a waste having someone with the speed Corey has playing out on the edge, not getting as much space as he needs," Heta said.
"Jakey Blimka has done a great job back there for me but he's out injured at the moment so we'll test Corey back there and see how it goes, then keep trying to get Jakey more confidence and move forward from there once he's ready again."
Meanwhile, Dom Maley will start at five-eighth in his debut as Orange CYMS' player-coach on Sunday afternoon, naming a largely new-look green and gold outfit for the round one clash with Bathurst St Pat's.
While he'll partner Luke Petrie in a halves combination that has no shortage of premier league experience, the remainder of CYMS' backline is quite young in comparison to recent years.
Lachie Munro starts at fullback after playing the majority of his first grade games at centre, while young speedster Travis Adelerhof is on one wing with Hayden Spencer named on the other.
They'll play outside recruits Josh Burke and Jarred Tyack in the centres.
In terms of CYMS' pack Maley is without hooker Ryan Griffin (unavailable), veteran lock Tim Mortimer (head knock) and former NRL star Chris Grevsmuhl (hamstring).
The green and golds do have the benefit of boom big man Joseph Ualesi named to make his debut up-front though.
Kick-off at Lithgow is expected to be at about 2pm, while CYMS take on Bathurst St Pat's on Sunday from 2pm at Jack Arrow Oval.
- ORANGE HAWKS: 1 Corey Brown, 2 Eman Rodriguez, 3 Duncan Young, 4 Jack Aumuller, 5 Jordan Baker, 6 Willie Heta, 7 Matt Boss, 8 Ethan McKellar, 9 Alex Prout, 10 Sam Coyte, 11 Talon Hodge, 12 Rakai Tuheke, 13 Nathan Potts; Bench: 14 Ethan Monk, 15 Brett Morgan, 16 Matt Foliaki
- ORANGE CYMS: 1 Lachie Munro, 2 Hayden Spencer, 3 Josh Burke, 4 Jarred Tyack, 5 Travis Adelerhof, 6 Dom Maley, 7 Luke Petrie, 8 Joseph Ualesi, 9 Luke Morris, 10 Cam Jones, 11 Ethan Bereyne, 12 Joe Duffy, 13 Robbie Mortimer
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