It's been nearly a year since they were last on the pitch, tasting success in the Orange District Football Association A-grade competition, but time has made the lure of going one better even sweeter for Barnstoneworth Football Club.
Barnies will gear up for their first competitive hit-out since last year's final on Wednesday night when they take on Panorama FC in a scratch match in Orange, ahead of hosting Macquarie FC in the league's season opener on Saturday.
It'll mark the first night full-contact training is allowed across all sports in NSW, and the two clubs are taking advantage of the changes as early as possible in the scratch match.
Coach Rob Dawson said the side was "absolutely" champing at the bit to get back on the pitch.
"The whole squad's pumped. We're really excited to get back out there," he said.
Dawson said he'd use Wednesday's scratch match as a training simulation, experimenting with where his cattle would line up under his side's 4-3-3 formation.
"We'll be looking at the dynamics and how well players link up while on the pitch," he said.
His charges haven't had the chance to train completely together, and he said the number 10 position in the centre of the midfield line would be crucial - a role he was likely to hand to Duncan Logan or Grant Kock on Wednesday night.
We're really excited to get back out there.Barnstoneworth FC coach Rob Dawson
"That 10 will do a lot of attacking or defending depending on the stage of the game," he said.
There was plenty of unknown about the WPL's return in 2020 before the pandemic struck and delayed the season, and with clubs having just a few weeks back on the pitch training before round one it's even harder to read.
Dawson said the first two weeks of training were about getting players to the fitness level they were at before the pandemic struck, and plenty of the tactical work and positional changes will be conducted on the fly in 2020 across all clubs.
While plenty of players were doing gym work and going for runs during lockdown, Dawson said it had been "hard" getting back into the swing of things.
They've got it back together in the last few weeks and they're raring to go ahead of their first hit-out, but winning will be just about the last thing Dawson thinks about on Wednesday night, but on Saturday when the club hosts Macquarie, it'll be something Barnies will be eagerly hunting.
"Thing is we won A-grade in Orange last year and the aim is to replicate what we've done and finish towards the top of the table," Dason said.
"If we don't then we'll use it as a stepping stone or as a building block for next year, but we're determined to do well."
Barnies take on Panorama at Jack Brabham Park from 6pm on Wednesday.
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