SEASON 2014 may have only just ended, but the Nowra-Bomaderry Jets are already making plans for the future.
Next year will be a big one for the Jets as they try to defend their crown, after winning their first premiership.
The Jets defeated the Warilla-Lake South Gorillas 30-20 in the grand final at Collegians Sports Complex on Sunday.
Captain-coach Ben Wellington feels the premiership win was a big step in the right direction for the future of the club.
Wellington is confident they will have the majority of their squad back on board for next season.
Veteran halfback Geoff Johnson had indicated before the grand final that it could be his last game, but Wellington would like to see him play at least one more season.
“I’m hoping we’ll have him back for next year, I’d say it’s about 60/40 my way,” Wellington said.
“There’s a bit of doubt, but I certainly want him to play and see if we can back it up.
“Then again, it’s a pretty good way to go out.”
Wellington admitted he even had thoughts about retirement, but at 32, still thinks he can play for a few more seasons.
One senior player who is definitely not hanging up his boots is 41-year-old prop Mick Blattner.
“Nah, Blatts isn’t going anywhere,” Wellington said.
“He might be the oldest player, but he was dominating them out there, really sticking it to the younger fellers. He played like he was still 30,” he added.
One player who missed the grand final was forward John Carey, who suffered a serious neck injury earlier this season.
While Carey was unable to get back on the field this year, Wellington is hoping he will be fit to play again next season.
If anything, it is actually some of the Jets youngest players who are the most likely to play elsewhere.
Eighteen-year-old second rower Ryan James was man of the match on Sunday and Wellington believes he is destined for higher honours.
“He has a big future,” Wellington said.
“He’s matured so much through the year and now he’s a really level-headed player.
“On Sunday, he really showed what he’s made of and really deserved to win it with the game he played.”
James and fullback Isaac Mumberson both had a trial for the St George Illawarra Dragons earlier this week, while leading try-scorer Mark Brandon is set to trial with Cronulla.
Wellington, who is a former NRL player himself, believes all three of them have the potential to go on to the next level.
He highlighted current St George Illawarra Dragons player and Culburra junior Adam Quinlan as a good example.
“He was playing for the Jets two years ago, by the start of the next year he was with the Illawarra Cutters.
“Within 12 months, he was playing NRL, so you never know what can happen.
“If I can get them playing at a higher level, my job is done.”
While it can sometimes be a stressful gig, Wellington said he will definitely throw his hat in the ring for the coaching job in 2015.
“We’re planning for big things,” he said.
“We want more juniors to come through and to have an under 18s next year.
“If everyone believes the club has a good culture then it makes it easier to get players and winning a comp is not a bad start.”