Tiger cubs revitalise veterans
Where some might look at Wests Tigers' 2015 roster and see inexperience, the club's senior players see ferociously talented youngsters who make it exciting just to come to training.
Fans have already had a look at young halves Luke Brooks and Mitch Moses, and backs James Tedesco and David Nofoaluma, but it is the likes of highly-rated back-rowers Lamar Liolevave and Salesi Funaki that have senior players pumped ahead of the season proper.
"I'm really excited – one thing this club always prided itself on was the junior talent coming through," Tigers skipper Robbie Farah told NRL.com.
"We've seen how many of them have come through the last couple of years and this year will be no different, there will be guys that step up and we know they can do the job.
"They're exciting young players, hopefully we can keep them fit and turn around what's been a pretty cruel injury toll the last couple of years."
Farah said it was important to be able to turn the enormous potential of the young players into results.
"The good thing about all those boys is they're willing to work hard and they're willing to learn and they've got their feet on the ground," he said.
"It makes me feel young again having those guys around me. The next few years can be a massive few years for the club."
The skipper said a few of the young guns had been highly impressive over the pre-season and with the departures of players like Adam Blair, Liam Fulton and Bodene Thompson there would be plenty of opportunity for those players to stake a claim in the trials for forward spots in particular.
Test prop Aaron Woods told NRL.com the forwards may be young but they certainly don't lack in size.
"There are some big kids, they're young but they're big boys as well," Woods said.
"Obviously they're a bit inexperienced at the moment but they can only play footy to get that experience, they're going to become really good players. There are a few – Matty Lodge, Nathan Brown, Kyle Lovett, and there's a couple of other back-rowers, Lamar Liolevave and Salesi Funaki, they're going to be really good players."
Woods has already taken on the role of helping the younger forwards out with some advice when they need it.
"They've come up to me and asked me a few things, whether I can help them, and I look back at them whether they can help me as well. Whenever anyone asks me I'm there to help," he said.
"It's part of being a footballer. I've been around a few years now and lucky enough to play a few rep games. If I can pass on any knowledge to them I will."
At 23 years of age Woods is hardly an old head but he said his 29-year-old front row partner Keith Galloway had a new spring in his step.
"I think this is the best I've ever seen Keithy look, he's running around like a young bloke again," Woods laughed.
"To see Keithy train the way he is, the enthusiasm from all the young guys has really picked him up and he's thinking 'geez these guys are coming up, I've got to really pick my game up'. And myself as well, it's been really good out there.
"It's an infection going around, everyone just really wants to beat each other and it's something really good to have. We're all working together with each other and helping each other out, it's really good for the club."
It's not just the forwards that have a fresh spring in their step – veteran winger Pat Richards said he felt as fresh as ever after a hamstring complaint forced an early end to his 2014 season.
"It freshens you up a bit seeing these young guys come through – it's just enjoyable coming to training each day and trying to get better," Richards said.
"I had a couple of little niggles [late last year] but had a bit of a rest and worked on them; the body's feeling fit now – I don't think I've missed a session in this pre-season.
"We're slowly getting a few boys back now so there's good competition for places. We need to start playing footy now and get back into it.
"There are some good exciting young outside backs and some really good young guys throughout the squad actually, it's exciting for an older guy to come down and see all these young guys. Every day's enjoyable to go out and train... these young guys are raw and talented but if we can get going it's very exciting."
Will you pick any Wests Tigers young guns in your NRL Fantasy team?