Jake Grace headlines players returning to Forbes Magpies in 2022

BACK IN BLACK AND WHITE: Jake Grace is set to make his return for Forbes next season. Picture: Nick Guthrie
BACK IN BLACK AND WHITE: Jake Grace is set to make his return for Forbes next season. Picture: Nick Guthrie

There's already plenty of excitement within the Forbes Magpies camp when it comes to the 2022 season.

The club has been a big supporter of a change in competition structure for some time so they're welcoming the prospect of playing in the Peter McDonald Premiership, while some familiar faces have been locked in for a 2022 return.

Premiership-winning captain Jake Grace, who hasn't played since 2018, headlines a comeback crew which will also feature Brad McMillan and a number of others.

It all points to a bumper season after the club's first grade side only won two of 13 matches this year before the Group 11 competition was abandoned due to COVID-19.

"We're looking pretty good," Magpies president Matt Jack said.

"Jake Grace is coming back, he's a two-time grand final winning captain, and a couple of older heads too so we're going to be looking pretty strong, I think.

"A big, big chunk of the side this year was guys who had won comps in the under 18s the last couple of years and they held themselves well.

"They're still young so they'll be 12 months' bigger, smarter, and stronger and by having extra older fellas in to help out when it gets a bit tough, they'll definitely be better for it."

While the younger players were found wanting at times this year, the club is backing them to show continued development in 2022.

There's a huge amount of support for those who make up the future of the Magpies and the calibre of people they are has also been praised by the club.

The players' commitment to their club and community has been on show during the past week as Forbes has battled major flooding that resulted in an evacuation order being issued to more than 430 properties.

"They're good quality players and good young kids, too," Jack said.

"They're always happy to help out. They'll sell raffle tickets or they were out filling up sandbags last weekend at the SES headquarters so they're good young blokes and it would be good to have them around for the next few years."

The Magpies are set to be one of 13 clubs taking part in next year's Peter McDonald Premiership.

It's just a chance to play against the best footy players in the country, really.

Matt Jack

Forbes has been for a western-wide premiership race for some time, with former president Matt Coleman putting forward his own proposal for a competition early last year.

"We're really keen. It had to happen at some stage," Jack said.

"From our point of view, it's going to be a stronger comp. It's just a chance to play against the best footy players in the country, really. The good footballers are all for it because they want to test themselves so we're all for it.

"It will be a good test for both under 18s and first grade."

Travel won't be an issue for the Magpies next year as trips to venues like Orange and Cowra are shorter than some current drives to Group 11 locations.

The other big positive for Forbes is the chance to expand its relationship with Bathurst St Pats.

The two play the annual Stubby Collits Memorial match in pre-season each year in honour the memory of a Magpies junior who also went on to represent the Bathurst club.

St Pats are also currently led by captain-coach Zac Merritt, who was also a Magpies junior and was part of the Group 11 premiership-winning Forbes side in 2017.

"It will be good. There's a good connection with Pats and we catch up every year for a trial," Jack said.

"You start to get some relationships between the clubs so it would be good to see them in a competition game.

"It's always pretty competitive but it is only a non-competitive trial so it would be good to pay them competitively and Zac Merritt is in charge there. It would be good to have a good hit-out with them, for sure."