Chris Binge insists the Moree Boomerangs will back in the Challenge Cup next year, and will be more prepared to take on the competition's "big boys".
Binge's side, the two-time defending Group 19 champions, made a bright start to their first match in the statewide knockout competition on Saturday but ultimately fell short against Dubbo CYMS.
The Boomerangs, who had travelled four hours for the opening round clash at Apex Oval, scored the first points through a rampaging Peter Duncan but that proved to be their only try in the 50-6 loss.
"It was a bit of an eye-opener for us," Binge said after the match.
"We started well and that first 20 minutes was unbelievable but it got away from us in the end and I think we fell into some bad things.
"Just silly mistakes and too much ad-lib footy but we'll walk away and learn a lot.
"We know what it will take to get to the level we want to be at but we'll stick together as a club and work on what we need to work on and come back this time next year and give ourselves a better chance."
But that eagerness and enthusiasm in the first match of the year was sometimes the side's undoing, as the coach pointed out, with a number of penalties conceded and errors made.
Much like CYMS, the Boomerangs had only had a few weeks to prepare for the match.
But despite the scrappy nature of the performance and the lopsided scoreboard, the coach remained incredibly proud of his troops and pointed to the resources CYMS have when praising his side.
"It was a great experience and they know what's in front of them," the coach said.
"Out in the far west, we're struggling out there like so many others and none of these blokes are paid a cent.
"They don't play for money. Everyone is with us is with us for the right reason and not one cent is being paid.
"We dig into our own pockets to play in these type of competitions and we'll keep doing that.
"We'll compete with the big boys one day and we can do that through hard work and effort."
While try-scorer and prop Duncan was a handful for CYMS almost every time he had the ball, David Green and Darryl Smith also never stopped working for the Boomerangs.