Corowa-Rutherglen's netballers have been quick to hail coach Georgie Bruce after their premiership dream was killed by coronavirus.
A team four years in the making looked odds-on to contest another grand final this year having fallen at the final hurdle in 2019.
The Roos will be officially recognised as the Ovens and Murray's A-grade minor premiers but that's scant consolation for Bruce and her tightly-knit squad.
"It was incredible how much chemistry we had as a team from day one," defender Sophie Hanrahan said.
"All of us put in so much effort each week and that's spear-headed by Georgie.
"The fact the season's called off, I'm heart-broken, we're all heart-broken but I'm more heart-broken for Georgie because she sacrifices so much for our netball club.
"To have a non-result, it's upsetting that we couldn't get her the trophy that we've been desperate for.
"She's got four young kids, she lives in Yarrawonga, drives to Corowa and this season, we've been training in Wodonga and Albury so she travels the countryside for our netball club.
"She's on the board, she helps out with functions; anything to do with the club, she's there and that's the reason our netball club has started to succeed.
"Even the football as well, her and Germo (Peter German) have a great relationship.
"It's really upsetting because you could feel our club starting to gain momentum and Georgie is definitely at the core of that."
Hanrahan, the back-to-back Toni Wilson medalist, has marvelled at the quality of the Roos attack this season, led by 533-goal phenomenon Grace Senior.
Corowa-Rutherglen's 100 percent record was only broken by a thrilling one-goal loss to premiers Wangaratta in their penultimate game.
But will the club be able to keep this side together after a second season of frustration or is the premiership window closing?
"It is upsetting that we've missed out on the potential of two finals series but I think the girls are all pretty fired up to have a go next season," Hanrahan insisted.
"When the season got called off, I've actually never felt more connected to this group of girls.
"We all were there for one another and Georgie and Liv Sinclair have built such an attractive culture that makes people want to travel from Wangaratta, Albury, Yarrawonga, all around, to play at our club.
"I've never met a coach that's more supportive of her players.
"Georgie sends us detailed feedback on our game and it's those little things that give you a rush of serotonin, like, wow, my coach cares about me.
"It's the personalities Georgie attracts.
"We all want to win and the key is we like hanging out with each other.
"With that in mind, they are more than excited to get back next season.
"I really do think we'll retain everybody."
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Corowa-Rutherglen's numbers point to their star quality but the culture they've created doesn't allow anyone to get above their station.
"We definitely keep each other humble," Hanrahan laughed.
"There are no egos in our team and we're all pretty honest with each other.
"I think that's what builds our strong connection on the court. We feel we can go up to any person in our team and give or ask for constructive feedback and they'll give it in a way that you can take on board.
"That's a product of Georgie building a really positive environment. It's very special that we've got those type of personalities."
Above all, the question of what might have been in 2021 hangs over the group.
"We were all really excited to prove ourselves to everybody," Hanrahan said.
"We were written off in 2019, even in the grand final.
"I think a lot of people didn't give us much of a shot and it's the classic tall poppy syndrome. We were underdogs for so many years and people loved us then but we found, when we started winning games, that people didn't like that.
"We were really motivated for this season and this finals series to prove to everyone that we work hard and we've earned this.
"I would hope so (that we're more respected now).
"When we first started building the netball club back up again, we looked at a team like Yarrawonga, who have deservedly earned so much respect.
"That's our goal.
"We want to earn respect, we want to have people look up to us and it is frustrating because I feel like these are the years to do that."
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