What a difference an infusion of a new and improved club culture can have on a team.
Last year Bendemeer slunk off into the off-season, dragging the wooden spoon, after failing to win a game.
This year the club sits third on the ladder with five wins after eight rounds and head into Saturday’s Old Boys Day clash against traditional rivals and competition leaders Kootingal-Moonbi in a vastly improved headspace.
Paul Craig, who took over as coach this season after retiring as a player at the end of 2016, said: “It’s a huge turnaround. I’m coaching, and that’s brought in a few players and there’s definitely a better attitude and different culture within the club.
“And that’s the credit to all the boys at Bendemeer … They’re the ones who turned it around and made a difference to the club this year.
“All thanks goes to those boys. I’m pretty proud of the way they are applying themselves.”
That new mindset will be given a stern test on Saturday.
The Roosters have lost one game this year – to Bundarra – and lead the Mountain Men by two points.
Craig said the side was looking forward to challenging themselves against the Roosters – evaluating themselves against arguably the biggest test in the competition.
“That’s what we’ve spoken about, that this is one of the toughest games to be played this year so far,” he said.
“And it will be a good yardstick of where we’re heading for the rest of the season."
The Mountain Men have been given a boost with the return from injury of their captain, prop Rodney Rolls, who had a cyst removed from his spine and has been absent most of the season.
Craig named halfback Adam Ruttley as his most influential player.
Meanwhile, a young Uralla Tigers outfit will be looking for redemption against Boggabri on Saturday after their last-start 52-6 loss to the Roosters.
It is the Tigers’ Old Boys Day.
Tigers coach Brett Monley said it would be inspiring for his squad to have past members of the club cheering them on and he hoped the town got behind the side to boost their chances against a Kangaroos side who sit one spot below them on the ladder in ninth spot.
“Our side this year contains a lot of 18 and 19-year-old boys who are coming into grade football now,” he said.
“We are just trying to get as many old boys there to support these young fellas and talk about the old times of how the club had been run and how the players were.
“We didn't travel that well [last Saturday] and we are looking at turning that around and getting a win at home in front of our supporters and show that we are the future of the Tigers.”
Monley said communication in defence was the side’s biggest weakness and they would aim to improve that this weekend.
In other Group 4 Second Division matches on Saturday, Werris Creek travel to Walcha, Dungowan host Bingara and Manilla welcome Barraba.
Bundarra has the bye.