In what is an evisceration of a top side, the newly minted South West Robins have had 13 members from their disgraced 2016 grand final-losing team leave the club.
Robins coach Shane Rampling said he was “disappointed a few local boys didn’t stay around”.
“That’s their choice, and they’ve moved on,” he said.
Among the players to leave the club are Michael Carter, Kyle Cochrane, Luke Cox, Mitchell Dening, Chris Hunt and Dylan Lake.
The Robins face Wee Waa in a Group 4 first division season opener at Scully Park on Sunday.
Rampling has conceded his greenhorn side is no chance of winning the premiership.
His main goal is to “sneak” into the top four.
Quite a comedown for a team that, as West Tamworth Lions, has experienced seismic shocks since ugly scenes marred its grand final loss to North Tamworth.
In that game, the Lions had seven players sent off and several players subsequently suspended.
In the wake of the shameful incident, Wests Entertainment Group withdraw its sponsorship of the competition and West Tamworth, leading to the name change.
“I didn’t think it would be as bad as what it was,” Rampling said.
“I think we got betrayed pretty bad.
“A couple guys did the wrong thing and the rest of the send-offs, I didn’t feel were really warranted. But anyway, life goes on.
“We’ve just got to pick up the pieces.”
Rampling said in the first few weeks of pre-season training he did not think he could assemble a side.
But he has been emboldened by an influx of younger players.
“We had a lot of new players show up, which was good – a lot of young fellas around the 19 to 23 bracket,” he said.
“They don’t have much experience in first grade at all but their attitude is good. They’re willing to learn.
“We’ll just plod along and try to improve week in week out and just try to be competitive. That’s my main goal.”
Rampling said he had to be realistic.
He hopes to see the side steadily improve.
He believes it will take about five games before the team starts to gel.
“The good thing is we’ve got the right attitude with the boys, so we’ve just got to put it together on the field,” he said.
Sunday’s game was hard to gauge, he said, adding that there were signs Wee Waa were not going to “make the starting line” this season.
Of his young brigade, he singled out utility Zac Nigro as a player he expects to continue to develop this season.
“He’s come back to us more confident looking … He’s the type of player you like having because he can cover a number of positions,” Rampling said.
“There’s a few young guys who I’m really looking forward to seeing play and see what they can do.
“It’s a bit exciting to see these new players.
“But we’ve got to be realistic. We’re not going to set the world on fire.
“It will take a bit of time to gel and come together.”