After a year underground – literally – Reece Goldsmith is back in a big way for the Wentworthville Magpies.

The hard-running hooker and lock is a key acquisition for the Magpies, who will line up in the black and white following stints with the Panthers and Mounties. Last year, however, Goldsmith took a year out of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW to work in the mines in country New South Wales, playing for the Nyngan Tigers and taking the CRL Group 11 by storm.

In 2017 the 26-year-old looks to add to an already-experienced Wentworthville outfit under coach Nathan Cayless.

“I’m very excited about what Rhys will bring to our side in terms of his toughness and his sheer will to win,” Cayless tells NSWRL.com.au. “He’s been training really well – he’s really, really fit and he’s really increased the level of intensity at training.”

“Whilst he’s a new bloke, he hasn’t taken a backwards step and he’s made some of our players sit up and take notice.”

With 2016 hookers Sam Gorman and Cameron King still around at Ringrose Park, Goldsmith could play at lock or share the no.9 jumper. After taking over the club midway through last year, Cayless has enjoyed the opportunity to have a full off-season with the new playing group, after a promising finish to last season.

“It’s always good to build a good relationship with the players through all the hard work they do in the pre-season,” Cayless says. “You can really see their strength come out, the leaders come out and the team gel.

“Having said that, I enjoyed the back end of last year. I thought the boys really worked hard after a bit of a slow start – we ended up finishing the back end of the season six wins from eight games.”

In his first full year in charge, the 39-Test veteran has the luxury of a relatively experienced squad to work with this season. Combined with a number of exciting rookies at Parramatta, Cayless believes it could be a recipe for success.

“A lot of guys are very experienced, but having said that we have quite a few young guys in the squad who are really snapping at those experienced players’ heels,” Cayless adds. “Those [older] guys know that they need to perform each week and perform well at training - there’s no guarantees in footy.

“We’re just looking for a really good start to the season.”

Wentworthville narrowly missed out on finals football in 2016 and they kick off the new season against a side who suffered the same fate; they face North Sydney at Ringrose Park on 4 March, with both sides desperate to show improvement this year.

For more on the Magpies, visit NSWRL.com.au/Magpies