WHEN the first ball of the South Coast Cricket Association competition is delivered on September 22, much of the focus will centre on the recently merged Gerringong-Jamberoo first-grade side.
The merger is the result of a perceived lack of quality players in the two clubs.
The new, first-grade side will act as a sole entity, but both clubs will retain their lower- grade teams.
Both club presidents have applauded the move.
Former Gerringong president Matt Swain said: "Despite us finishing in the semi-finals last year, we looked like we would struggle to field a strong first-grade team this year, with several experienced players not playing - and Jamberoo were probably in the same boat, so it was definitely worth giving it a go."
Jamberoo president Greg Harris said his club just didn't have the talent to remain in the top grade.
"One of the biggest issues we have had in the past few years is that players who could probably be playing second grade are being forced to play first grade and not gaining experience and confidence along the way," he said.
The clubs have committed to giving the merger a one-year trial, but are confident of its success. Swain said they would pick the teams on merit.
"If there are 11 Gerringong players who deserve to be in first grade on a particular week, or vice-versa, so be it," Swain said.
"We will be sharing home games between Kevin Walsh Oval and Gerry Emery Oval, while training will also be shared around."
He said the enthusiasm of current players from both clubs in the building process had driven the process.
"One of the big positives of the merger has been the involvement of our players, particularly David Reid and second-grade captain Brad Sperring, and I know that some of Jamberoo's players like Scott Adams, Chris McDonald and Matt George are very keen as well," he said.
"I think it's a way of both clubs rebuilding by having a better quality of players in their lower grades and it will be interesting to watch results this year."