AFTER Brothers Bulldogs' drought-breaking Wide Bay senior flag in 2010, Rob McGill took the reins last year and rebuilt a competitive team after the club lost a host of its premiership players.
They finished second on the ladder, before going down fighting to cross-town rivals Across The Waves Eagles in the second semi-final. However, they were unable to regroup and were knocked out by Hervey Bay Bombers in the preliminary final.
Instead of being able to build on that, McGill laments he has to go through the process again, after losing 11 more players, and he is uncertain how they will fare in their first game of the year when they host Bay Power tomorrow.
"We have lost our best and fairest, Luke Sicker, who has moved to the Gold Coast, Daniel Steemson, who is only playing league this year, Andrew Hatfield, and Jordan Cooper has moved interstate," McGill said.
"Also, Ben and Matt Williams have work commitments, Bradyn Webb has moved back to Brisbane and Brad Purdin has gone to the mines. The ones who need to step up and be counted and lead from the front are Ben Turnbull, Craig Bek, Braden Krebs, Dale Harvey and Jamieson Webb.
"The kids who have played a couple of years of senior footy, players the calibre of Jefferson Baulch, Jordan McGill, Blake Hornbrook and Alex Whiting, also really need to step up and go to the next mark now. They've got the experience.
"The younger brigade of Lachlan McGill, Riley Blundell, Jack Sickerdick, Chris Powell, Aidan Dempsey and Braden Doherty, all first yearers, need step up as well."
McGill said he expected big things of Blundell, who played just three games last season because of injury, but who had now quit rugby league to focus on Aussie rules.
The club has welcomed back another of the Webb brothers, Griffin, after several years in Brisbane, and former Bundaberg Spirit State League football player Tom Kimber, who McGill said would be a handy recruit.
"If all step up and play to their potential, I have no doubt we will finish top four by the end of the season, but who knows?" he said.
McGill said the team would also be without Grant Irwin and his sons Jordan and Lachlan tomorrow but despite a limited preparation, he remained confident of the club continuing its domination against the Power.
"Playing at home, you shouldn't lose a game, even though we will be a bit undermanned. But the first couple of games will be interesting. They will be trial and error to see how we go," he said.
Meanwhile, traditional heavyweights Bombers will host perennial whipping boys Maryborough Bears in a twilight match.
Bundaberg's other team, the Eagles, who swept all before them in an unbeaten premiership last season, have the bye and will not play their first game until after Easter due to last week's wash-out.
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