Katanning Wanderers coach Mark Pinney is looking forward to mentoring a young crop of players at the club in 2022 as he welcomes being the hunted team after their grand final triumph over Williams in 2021. Pinney expects another competitive year in the Upper Great Southern Football League, with round one starting on Sunday. Star midfielder Kade Stewart is a big loss for the club after moving back to Perth where he is playing A-grade for Curtin -Wesley in the Perth Football League. Two other premiership players have left the club, former Peel Thunder player Hayden Yarran and exciting youngster Tyrone Roe. The Wanderers will look to bolster their ranks with the inclusion of Josh Goodwin, Josh McMahon and 2017 premiership player Mitchell Banks. Pinney said he was proud of last year’s grand final result and welcomed the pressure that came with being reigning premiers. “We are collectively really proud of last year’s performance as a club and I have no doubt that now we’re up the top, other clubs will be doing the best to knock us off . . . but we welcome the challenge,” he said. “We know there’s some really good clubs in the league that will give us that challenge.” Pinney believes blooding local talent will be key to their success. “I suppose for us it’s just about avoiding the premiership hangover for the new season,” he said. “We have nine under-20 players in the side this year which is really exciting and positive for the future of the club. “We’re excited for the year as a club and for me as the coach, it always give me a bit of energy coaching a lot of the younger kids and seeing their development as well.” Pinney believes the ultimate goal of the season is to be competitive in a year that still has some uncertainty around it. “Looking back on last year, we didn’t really set any high expectations for the year, the most important thing we said was just being competitive and to win as many as we lost,” he said. “That gives us the best chance to play finals footy. “Every club in the Upper Great Southern will face uncertainty throughout the year in terms of COVID but the priority will be fielding a league side.” James Laurino will again captain the Wanderers league team. Katanning will travel to Clayton Road Oval to open the new campaign against Narrogin on Sunday. In the other round one fixtures, Wickepin host Williams, Kukerin-Dumbleyung are at home against Boddington and Wagin face Brookton-Pingelly.