TAKING the minimalist approach, Tumut coach Eric Smith yesterday declared the Blues are bouncing back from the depths of the Group Nine ladder.
Intent on rebuilding the proud Group Nine force, Smith said the club had resisted splashing around its cash to snag a big-name star but instead lured a crop of homegrown talent back to the Blues.
Speaking yesterday, Smith said the return of premiership-winning stars Josh Toohey, Jason Back, Greg Crampton and Matt Free would headline predicted improvement for the Blues.
"We're not chasing anyone, we're not in a position to be lashing out and buying a big-name player but at the same time if a quality player wanted to come to us we definitely wouldn't say no," he told The Daily Advertiser yesterday.
"I'm happy with the squad we've put together, though. I'm pretty confident we'll be successful. All of the boys that are coming back were involved in the Tumut side that had a fair bit of success and won two or three premierships a few years ago.
"They'll bring that experience back to the side."
Recuperating from a lacklustre season under former coach Clay Campbell, Smith said the younger talent in the team had paid their dues and would be better equipped to handle first grade this season.
"Even though Tumut didn't have a great season last year, the younger players were blooded and they will be a lot better off.
"Without focusing on last year, they struggled and they were on the end of some big touch ups so they learnt the hard way what that feels like. Getting beaten by 100 points and having to walk off the field, that's not a good feeling, but they'll be better for it."
The Blues have been in pre-season training for the past few weeks, with Smith expected to up the intensity over the next two months leading into the Blues' first of two trial games.
"We've started but last week was our first full week of training, it's going pretty good," he said.
"The boys are all keen and that's all I can ask for.
"We're really looking forward to the season," he said.
Smith said the Blues would play the combined Group Nine and Group 20 pre-season competition but won't be looking for any additional trial games.
The Blues are scheduled to play Waratah Tigers at Anzac Park on March 23 and Yenda at Narrandera Sportsground on April 6.