Western Rams coach Cameron Greenhalgh is hopeful the best players in the region will put their hand up for selection after it was confirmed the NSW Rugby League Country Championships would return to an open format age from next year.
The championships have been under 23s for the past four seasons but there will be no age limit when the 2021 campaign starts in February.
Greenhalgh has been named as Rams coach, having led Western in this year's Presidents Cup, and he's already received a number of calls and messages from interested players around the region.
"With the talent about in Group 10 and Group 11 and this region I was pretty keen and I hope everyone puts their hand up to have a crack," Forbes-based Greenhalgh said.
"It could be very good. There's a lot of players around this region who are 22 or 23 who could still be playing in Sydney but are back in the bush and we've got a few older heads and some big boys getting around too, which is something we've lacked for awhile.
"There's been some interest the past week or two and that's pleasing."
Macquarie Raiders captain-coach Alex Ronayne, who captained Western against France last year, was one of the first players to signal his interest to Greenhalgh while former NRL player Harry Siejka is expected to go around again having been the skipper of the Rams in the Presidents Cup.
The decision to go back to the open age has proved popular around the bush and NSWRL's Western regional manager Evan Jones admitted there was some "outcry" when the format was changed to under 23s prior to the 2017 season.
It meant many players were forced to go without representative footy but the move had been made to give extra exposure to younger players still keen to make it to the NRL.
"But going back (to opens) gives everyone across the region a chance to have a crack at a Rams jersey," Jones added.
"There's plenty who have had a crack in Sydney or played in the top grade around here for awhile and still want to play rep footy so having the opportunity to go for a Rams here is really important."
Greenhalgh agreed and added there is now a chance to build on the region's proud history, the highlight of that being Western Division stunning win over Penrith in the final of the 1974 Amco Cup.
"Before, at 23 you think you might not pull a Rams jersey or Group 11 or Group 10 jersey on again so there's a bit of hope there," Greenhalgh said.
"There's some good stories in the past to come out of Western Division and this area so hopefully we can do something again that maybe goes down in the history books or something like that.
"But it won't be easy."
Clubs across the Western Rams region have been asked to nominate interested players for selection, with no play in Group 11 and Group 10 this year making it tricky for Greenhalgh and selectors to know exactly what's on offer.
An extended Rams squad is expected to start training together in late January, with a intra-group match possible before Greenhalgh selects his final side.
The draw hasn't been released but the Rams men and women are expected to face Monaro in Canberra in late February before heading to Tamworth to take on the Northern Tigers the following weekend.
Victories in those games would secure passage through to the semi-finals.
Any players who are interested in playing for the Rams can contact Evan Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.