Two-time premiership player Shane Rodney believes it's only a matter of time before the next NRL superstar emerges from western NSW.
The Orange Hawks coach will again take the reins of the Western Rams under 18s Laurie Daley Cup team for the 2024 campaign.
Rams form part of the pathway for Penrith Panthers, with whom Rodney won a premiership in 2003.
He said he was looking forward to unearthing the next star player from out west.
"We've seen over the years that Western Rams has been a good pathway for players progressing through the ranks to be NRL players," he said.
"We have a great partnership with Penrith and they are very supportive of our Rams program and give the opportunity for a number of kids each year to train and trial with their Harold Matthews,SG Ball and Jersey Flegg teams.
"We have constant dialogue with [Panthers recruiters] Jim and Sam Jones about players out here and I am sure that the next generation of 'Isaah Yeos' and 'Matt Burtons' isn't too far away.
"It's exciting for me that I get the opportunity to play a small role in helping them develop along that journey."
The squad is made up of players from Orange CYMS, Dubbo CYMS, Bathurst St Pat's, Orange Hawks, Red Bend, Narromine Jets, Nyngan Tigers, St John's Dubbo, Bloomfield Tigers, Parkes Marist, Mudgee Dragons, Lithgow Storm, Wellington Cowboys, Parkes Spacemen and Dubbo Macquarie Raiders.
Rodney said the sheer geographical spread of players meant they would have to "make it count" when it came to training sessions.
"I learnt from last season that logistically it is a challenging program as the region spans from Lithgow to Bourke and everywhere in between and if we are lucky we only get one session a week together so we need to really make it count," he said.
"My hat goes off to all the parents, families, friends and carers who give up their time to give the kids an opportunity to progress their rugby league through our program."
While reluctant to put pressure on his players, Rodney said they were determined to improve on last season's outing which saw them win two and lose three games.
"There were a lot of new faces to the trials and there were a few standouts which came from a mixture of younger and older boys all putting their hands up for selection which was great," he said.
"I am optimistic about the season ahead. I don't want to put too much expectation on the group but I will be making sure we're prepared well to give ourselves every chance of competing and having a good year."
The 2024 Laurie Daley Cup will likely begin in February with a draw yet to be finalised.
Western Rams Laurie Daley Cup train-on squad
- Ajay Isbester-Boss - Dubbo CYMS
- Angus Thompson - Orange CYMS
- Anthony Driver - Bathurst St. Pats
- Bailey Kennedy - Orange CYMS
- Beau Hartley - Orange Hawks
- Billy Morgan - Orange Hawks
- Brandon Dos Santos Hall - Red Bend JRL Forbes
- Charlie Bonham - Narromine Jets
- Cooper Black - Nyngan Tigers
- Corey Kaltenbacher - St. Johns Dubbo JRL
- Harrison Kukla - Orange Hawks
- Harry Wald - Orange Hawks
- Hunter Mooney - Orange Bloomfield Tigers JRL
- Jace Baker - St. Johns Dubbo JRL
- Jack Dean - Orange CYMS
- Jack Milne - Parkes Marist JRL
- Jacobie Oneil - Orange Bloomfield Tigers JRL
- Jay O'Brien - Mudgee Dragons
- Jodan Porter - Dubbo CYMS
- Joel Macgregor - Parkes Marist JRL
- Jonah Moss - St. Johns Dubbo JRL
- Jonah Tulevu - Orange Hawks
- Jordi Robertson - Mudgee Dragons
- Logan Constable - Bathurst St. Pats
- Matt McKenna - Orange Hawks
- Nate Davis - Orange Hawks
- Nate Green - Lithgow Storm
- Nathaniel Robinson - Wellington Cowboys
- Noah Sutcliffe - St. Johns Dubbo JRL
- Regan Stait - Bathurst St. Pats
- Riley Hoad - Orange Bloomfield Tigers JRL
- Ryan Goodsell - Parkes Spacemen
- Te Aamai Dermott Hopa - Mudgee Dragons
- Toby Cox - Parkes Marist JRL
- Tully Howell - Mudgee Dragons
- Zeik Selwood - Orange Bloomfield Tigers
- Zeke Heterick - Dubbo Macquarie Raiders