With the start of 2019 SG Ball Cup season just four months away, the West Coast Pirates’ 33-man Train On Crew returned to pre-season training earlier this week.

The team will again be coached by Daniel Manning, who returns for his second year at the helm.

“We’ve got a good bunch of boys this year,” Manning said of his playing group.

“Half of the boys played last year so they know what to expect and hopefully they can help the newbies coming in.”

In fact, nine of the 33-man squad played SG Ball last season, with Jaiden Wilkinson, Billy Judge, Brenton Scott, Jackson Bond, Deijaan Healey-Marsh, Vincent King, Jaydon Solomon, Devontay Tutai-Tauiti and Ace Maki all returning for 2019.

“Those boys are immense and a year under their belt will help them go forward,” Manning said.

“We’ve had our first week of training and you can already see those guys leading from the front with their communication and the one-percenters.”

Having made positive steps forward last season where the team upped their production in both attack and defence, Manning hopes to take that momentum into 2019.

“We’re focused on defence,” he said.

“Just from the last couple of years, the defence has been getting better so we’ll be focussing on that a little bit more this year.”

With the new John Moore Shield to be introduced in 2019 for U17’s, players who are not selected to the Pirates’ SG Ball Cup 18-man matchday squad will still be kept within the Pirates program.

“We just want to work with more kids and give more kids the opportunity to represent the West Coast Pirates,” Manning said.

The playing group will continue training until January ahead of their first pre-season game against PNG at the start of the year.

A second pre-season opponent will be revealed in the coming weeks.