Bathurst St Pat's have continued bolstering their senior squad this week, adding a trio of Kiwi recruits to their ranks amid the beginning of their 2020 Group 10 pre-season.
Logan Afoa, Taumutu Nohotima and Haze Reweti round out the Saints' recruitment for what they're hoping will be a return to premier league glory after a woeful 2019 campaign, and all three bring strong credentials to Jack Arrow Oval.
Nohotima Afoa boasts experience with the New Zealand Army representative side, Nohotima has previously trained with the Canberra Raiders while Reweti already has an impressive club coaching record to his name.
The Saints' new player-coach Zac Merritt said the early signs are great from the Kiwi collective.
"Any time you sign a couple of new players it brings a lot of excitement," he said.
"We now have a couple of boys who have come over from New Zealand. On Tuesday I was really happy with how they went.
"They came over to see if they could get a crack with us and they definitely trained the house down."
Injuries have wreaked havoc on the Saints over the past few seasons after they made promising starts to their 2018 and 2019 Group 10 premier league campaigns, so doing everything in their power to be physically ready for the next challenge is crucial.
A productive pre-season is also an important mental boost for a St Pat's side featuring many new faces.
Developing cohesion between the likes of Oberon recruits Jackson Brien, Blake Fitzpatrick and Abel Lefaoseu with the returning Saints players is going to be vital, the trio signing with St Pat's after the Tigers' decision to drop down to the New Era Cup.
Merritt said the turnout for Tuesday's first compulsory session, and the way the senior squad applied themselves, are encouraging signs.
"We had 45 to 50 blokes turn up, which is really promising for us, and there's still a few away on holidays. Everyone was keen and we had a pretty tough sesh," he said.
"The last two years I've been back we haven't really had a big pre-season but this year it's going to be tougher. We want to rip in, set higher standards for ourselves and see where it takes us."
With so many new faces it will be interesting to see what line up St Pat's look to use for the season.
"I've got an idea of what my squad looks but there's a lot of new faces that turned up on Tuesday who showed a lot of promise and are fighting for those positions," Merritt said.
"We've got so many people keen to play in first grade. You can't cement anything with the possibility of injuries coming into the season so we'll just let blokes fight it out throughout the pre-season and rewards those blokes who are ripping in."
The release of the 2020 Group 10 draw earlier this week revealed St Pat's will start their season with a tough trip to Lithgow's Tony Luchetti Sportsground, Workies' stronghold.
They'll have a fair indication of where they are as a side after that, before facing Panthers in a round two, all-Bathurst derby.
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