Eastern Suburbs are pushing to play Maitland cricket semi-finals with the return of Trent Park and Josh Hicks to the line-up for the 2021-22 season.
Park played in the Newcastle competition with Stockton last season and Hicks had the year off.
The Griffins will also be boosted with paceman Doug Loth joining the club full-time after an impressive one-off game last year when he took 3-30 from 11 overs.
The only major loss from last season's team, which finished fifth, will be skipper Michael Gavan, who will be taking the year off after the birth of his first child.
Jack Bennett will take back the captaincy this year and is looking forward to playing finals for the first time since moving to the club five years ago.
"We've got a couple of really good ins, Trent Park is back and Josh Hicks is playing again," Bennett said looking ahead to the new season.
"Doug Loft played one game for us last year and he will be with us all year. He played second and third grade in Sydney and is another handy inclusion with his fast bowling.
"I'm really expecting big things for us, especially with Hicksy, Trent and Doug bringing that bit of experience. Hopefully we can come out all guns firing and get off to a good start and challenge to be honest for the title.
"Brendan Allen played half a season with us last year but is back all season this year as well.
"I'm really confident of us being really strong this year.
"We've got a team that can vie for a top two spot and be right there in the mix for the title."
One of the most exciting prospects for the Griffins is the development of teenage trio Tom Porter, Joe Hancock and Jett Lee who are all back for 2021-22 without under-16 commitments.
"They will be able to concentrate on senior cricket and not have to worry about running around in the morning," Bennett said.
"They had significant roles last year with Joe batting at four, Jett opening the bowling and Tom opening the batting and keeping. It will be good to see the results of that experience.
"Having Trent and Hicksy coming back takes a bit of pressure off those young fellas so they can enjoy their cricket more."
The opening bowling will be shared by Hicks, Loft, Nick Rinkin and Lee with Lachie Wishart and Brendan Allen to follow.
Riley Horrocks, who came into first grade last year, will handle the spinning duties with Bennett. Park will also be able to be called on to bowl.
"We've got depth this year. Will Stoneman is really keen this year and you've got all those other young guys who helped us to the title in second grade last year," Bennett said.
"We will have a lot of pressure on spots for first grade which is good."
One of the key additions off field will be the return of Jason Allen in a coaching role.
"It's great to have him back around the club, he is that extra ear to listen to plans and offer advice and he will take up some of pressure around training," Bennett said.
"It's huge to have him around the club obviously for what he has done in Maitland cricket and the knowledge and experience he will bring us."
Bennett said a return to finals would be the best tribute they could make to people such as Rod Porter who kept the club alive in the recent lean years.
"I know Easts over the last six, seven years have had some really tough times and it's huge credit to Rod Porter for keeping the club afloat when he was doing four or five committee roles," he said.
"In the last few years with Rod and Charles Willacy, our president now, we are starting to get our ducks in a row on and off the field.
"I know it's been a long time since Easts have been in the finals, I haven't played in the five years I've been there.
"The last appearance was 2014-15 and I'm pretty confident we can get back there and give it a real shake.
"Everything is starting to look rosy over our side of town."
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