THE Nowra-Bomaderry Jets have always been one of, if not the most, talented teams on paper in Group Seven.
However, since their breakthrough premiership in 2014, the Jets have failed to live up to that expectation.
Even the addition of former NRL player Dylan Farrell to their club couldn't stem the flow.
Farrell, who played with both South Sydney and St George Illawarra during this career, believes the stars are finally aligning for the Jets.
"When I first joined the club in 2018, it was about rebooting the whole place, not just the first grade side," Farrell said.
"In my first year, we were so short on players, I had to pull the boots on - while ringing around the night before, just to find players for reserve grade.
"Then last year, with the help of a new committee, we continued to turn the club's image around.
"Obviously the way first grade ended last season and missed finals was disappointing. However, it's about the club as a whole and our reserve grade and women's league tag sides made the semi-finals and I'm happy with the progress the club made in 2019.
"Now this year, the club is in the best shape, both on and off the field, it's been in a long time.
"We've got three men's teams, an under 18s and two WLT sides, which is great - the club is flourishing and we haven't had to turn anyone away.
"A lot of the credit has to go to people like Mark Berry, my dad Darryll Farrell, Vanessa Longbottom and the whole committee - everyone is now on the same page and want to provide the community with a respectable football club they can be proud of."
The most pleasing of all that for Farrell is the rebirth of the club's under 18s side, after a three-year hiatus.
"I could never understand how we had five high schools in the Nowra vicinity and couldn't get an under 18s team - there was a real hole in the system," he said.
"Even though I was playing under 20s at the time, I would always drive back and watch Culburra's under 18s team when I could - back then there were guys lining up to play each week, but this generation seems to be different.
"The past few years, we've been working hard with both the Nowra Warriors and Bomaderry Swamprats to provide a legitimate pathway for those players into our club.
"The times of people driving past our club to play for others is a thing of the past - young players want to play for the Jets again.
"Look at this year's under 18s team, players such as Jonah Longbottom and Jayden Brody are ones the club can build around for years to come."
The under 18s players, along with the club's men and women, started pre-season for 2020 on January 15.
"From the first session, everyone has been ripping in," Farrell said.
"Us first grade boys had a six-week block of training to prepare ourselves for the West Wyalong Knockout and that tournament seemed at act as a driving force for everyone."
Despite going down in the final 11-10 to Goulburn Workers, Farrell took plenty of positives away from the tournament.
"When we first went out there two years ago, we got knocked out in our first game," Farrell said.
"This year, behind our defence, we made it all the way to the final and were unlucky not to win it."
That defence Farrell alludes to kept the Jets' first three opponents (Wyalong, Temora and Forbes) all scoreless.
"For the first three and a half matches, we didn't concede a try, which is really pleasing," he said.
"Before our first game at West Wyalong, I told the boys to look around at our team and said 'with this group, we are never going to have problems scoring points with the strike power in this side'.
"I told them the biggest thing I wanted us to work on was our defence, meaning everyone needs to be switched on and willing to put their body on the lines for each other.
"I knew the boys had it in them, so it was great to see them put it into action."
This message from Farrell has continued into the pre-season, with the captain/coach putting the onus back on the players.
"The boys have don't want the same disappointments to arise that have occurred the past few seasons - they know they let themselves down," he said.
"They now know talent can only get them so far, they need to be doing extra work, both physically and mentally, away from the three hours I have them each week."
This was no more evident when 13 of the Jets' players helped the South Coast Black Cockatoos win the 2019 Koori Knockout.
"It was really special to have 13 of the boys play in that Knockout win," he said.
"Even all the non-Indigenous players at the club were asking how we were doing in the group chat - as the tournament means so much to everyone that knew James Wellington and knows Ben.
"There still is a huge buzz around the club about it and we will be carrying the momentum into the season, whenever it does start - especially with the Knockout to be held in Bomaderry later in the year."
On top of this, the Knockout victory has been two more Black Cockatoos join the Jets for 2020 - as well as three other South Coast products, including local junior Kuyan Wellington.
"Narooma halfback Clyde Parsons (19) played with me in our recent victorious Wollongong Knockout side," Farrell aid.
"After our win, I asked him what his plans were for 2020 and he was still unsure at that stage - so I invited to come along to our training.
"He came down and loved it - he hasn't missed a beat since joining.
"That's also the case with Dylan Buchanan, who I've known since he first started playing at Culburra.
"After a couple of seasons off, he's been really impressive - he was one of our best forwards at West Wyalong and will be a real asset to our side.
"Kuyan has missed the majority of the past two seasons with a shoulder injury, after spending time with the Steelers SG Ball side - he's looking great and will give our outside backs a new dimension.
"Then with the cancellation of most NSW and Queensland statewide competitions, both Jason Gillard and Paul Roberts (who helped the Black Cockatoos win at the Central Coast) have joined our squad.
"Jason would have played the season with St George Illawarra's NSW Canterbury Cup side and adds to our exciting core of outside backs including Jake Gould, Josh Coulter, Ryan James and Kuyan Wellington.
"Then Paul, after winning two competitions with Collegians in the Illawarra competition, had signed with Mackay but the fit wasn't right for him and he decided to come home and play for us, even before their season had been cancelled.
"Paul was fantastic for us in the Koori Knockout last year and will be dynamic out of dummy-half for us in 2020."
All these additions give Farrell's his strongest squad to date, with it also including Danny Deaves, Dwyane Connors, Tyson Simpson, Josh Power-Farrell and Zac Kershaw.
"Our team is shaping up really strong across the board and the most pleasing aspect of it is that we haven't had to spend plenty of money to do it," Farrell said.
"Everyone at our club is on the same money but that didn't faze those new players, as they just wanted to be a part of our club - which is a testament to the culture we've built over the past few seasons.
"We've now got solid depth across the board, which is what you need to go all the way in Group Seven - no doubt there will be some tough selections at times but all the players are willing to back my decisions.
"I'm one of those leaders that will speak to each player individually and give them a reason why they are or aren't in the side and what they can do to improve - there's that respect between everyone this year.
"At the end of last season, I chatted with a number of the senior guys who I thought under-performed and they owned up to their mistakes.
"Everyone is now accountable and hungry to make amends, especially as some of the older guys know they've only got a few more good seasons left in them to try and win another premiership.
"We've preached how important it is to be proud of the jersey and your own performance - as no one wants to let their teammates down.
"That approach has laid the groundwork for our season, which I have a feeling could be special."
The Jets' mentor believes there's no reason why his team can't end their six-year premiership drought.
"Obviously, our goal is to win the competition but first and foremost, our goal is to make the top five," he said.
"Instead of looking too far ahead, we are going to take the season week by week and only concentrate on who's in front of us and doing our jobs on the field.
"If we all play our roles, other aspects, such as winning, will fall into place.
"Winning is contagious and once you string a couple of victories together, everyone plays with more confidence.
"We've all seen how dangerous a confident Jets team can be - I'm excited to see that side return this season and turn plenty of heads."