ALBION Park-Oak Flats Eagles coach Shane Sainsbury is backing his crop of young guns to help turn around the club's fortunes during this year's South Coast Group 7 Rugby League competition.
The Eagles finished ninth in 2013, with just five victories all season.
However, nobody at the club is ready to hit the panic button.
The bulk of the Eagles side will once again comprise local juniors in 2014, and Sainsbury has no reservations about his young squad being up to the task.
"Last season wasn't as bad as it probably looked on paper," Sainsbury said.
"Results didn't go our way at times, but there were some occasions where we had up to nine under-18's playing in the first-grade team.
"All those young guys are still at the club and they will all be better players because of those opportunities.
"They showed last year that they can be competitive, and now they're bigger, stronger and more experienced."
Sainsbury said he was happy with the Eagles' pre-season preparations and was excited about what potentially lay ahead.
"We beat Mittagong in a trial last week and we looked really strong," he said.
"We had a few injuries, so it was another good opportunity to play some of the younger guys and it was all really promising.
"We've got a few guys in particular who I'm really excited about seeing come through this year.
"Kyle Williams, Todd Price, and Kurt Holloway are all really good young prospects."
Sainsbury said that every successful Albion Park-Oak Flats side of the past had been built on togetherness, and that the club's main goal this year was to make sure everyone was united.
"We are a family club and we want everyone at the Eagles to be in it together, right from the under-18s up to first grade.
"Our aim is always to look after our people and nurture our young talent.
"We haven't actively pursued any players from other clubs and we're proud that all of our players are here because they want to be here, not for money."
Albion Park-Oak Flats kick off their 2014 campaign with a home fixture against the Port Kembla Blacks at Centenary Field on Saturday, March 29.