The training wheels are off and the Weston Bears are looking to improve sharply after two disappointing Northern NSW NPL seasons.
Bears coach Steve Piggott aims to climb back up the ladder on the back of a talented core of youngsters and the experience of star recruits former Dutch international and Newcastle Jets captain Kew Jaliens, returning Bear Nathan Morris and well-travelled midfielder Josh Maguire.
They have also added young striker Jackson Burston from the Lambton Jaffas, Jets youth player Regan Lundy and last year’s Northern League One leading scorer Tega Adjeke who scored 20 goals from 23 games for beaten grand finalists Belmont Swansea United.
“We were lacking experience last year and now we’ve got three senior players into the squad with Morris, Jalens and Maguire who are all over 30.
“That added experience should help us immensely in those games where we were close but not good enough.
“We got beaten four times in the 89th minute or added time. Those close games, with a little bit more experience, a year under their belts you’d have to think they will improve their mental strength as well as their knowledge of their game and get a result.
“We have kept a core group of seven to nine of the squad who were in that 17 to 18-year-old mark.
“After last year when they played 33 games on the trot, they’re all a year better.
“They’re all conditioned, they’re all better footballers, they’ve trained better this off-season. They all want to be here.
“The training wheels are off, they all understand what we want and they’re all hungry for some success after a tough year when we only won one game in the proper season.
“With the experienced players coming back it will put us in good stead.
“I’m not saying we are going to be world beaters, but we will improve sharply and if we don’t we have to look at something else.”
Piggott is expecting big things from young goalkeeper Kane Rudge.
“The goalkeeper was 17 last year, straight out of youth football from the Central Coast. He’s now had five months with the Jets, he’s been in the senior side for the last month that’s got to help him with confidence,” he said..
“Most goalkeepers don’t really play at their best until they are in their 30s, to have one that is really going up and has only turned 18 is tremendous for the club long term.
The Bears have two wins from their two trial matches to date and are gearing up for back-to-back games against Edgeworth on March 3 and 4 before the annual multi-team Heritage Cup the week before the season opening derby against Maitland.