Mudgee has long been one of Group 10's best and most successful clubs, and returning president Sebastian Flack says there's no reason to think 2021 will be any different after backing his premier league roster to "take out the comp".
Flack was reinstated as the Dragons boss at the club's AGM last month and after Mudgee went within a point of picking up its first Group 10 grand final win since 2016 in last year's 9-8, extra-time loss to Bathurst Panthers, Flack says there's a sense of redemption still lingering at the club following the COVID-19 break in 2020.
Speaking on the Big Sports Breakfast on Thursday ahead of Friday's bumper Mudgee Cup Day, Flack believes a rejuvenated Dragons, led by Jack Littlejohn and with former NRL players Harry Siejka and Clay Priest still on the books, will be at the top of Group 10's tree come September next year.
"We're expecting a big year. We're expecting to take out the comp in the top grade," Flack said.
A large chunk of the Dragons' players went to either Dunedoo, where the Swans won the Castlereagh League, or across to rugby union to play for the Mudgee Wombats.
Flack says those players will return ahead of next season, with up to 60 players in the club's senior ranks, he says.
It could be a positive, the effect (of the COVID-19 break), we had a lot of people not play sport and they're keen to go for next year's comp.Mudgee president Sebastian Flack
Flack added the community was ready to get back into the swing of community sport.
"It could be a positive, the effect (of the COVID-19 break), we had a lot of people not play sport and they're keen to go for next year's comp, which is good," the 30-year-old said.
"We lost the grand final in 2019 so we've still got that sense of redemption from that year and it's building up over two years. Everyone is ready to go."
The club will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2021, delaying celebrating scheduled for the 2020 season to ensure the community can gather to mark the occasion.
The upcoming season, too, could be the last as a Group 10 competition, with a Western merger on the cards for the 2022 season.
Mudgee floated a switch to Group 11 in the wake of the 2019 grand final loss in a bid, Flack says, to "freshen things up" and he says a looming merge would be good for the game in Western.
"We were keen for a change ... NSWRL is doing a great job to make that happen in 2022. Be good to freshen things up," he added.
HAVE YOUR SAY
- Send us a letter to the editor using the form below ...