When the Wollongong Wolves went nine games without a loss to open the NSW Men's National Premier League season, many were caught by surprise.
But not Luke Wilkshire.
A former Australian representative freshly retired from an illustrious playing career, Wilkshire knows a champion team when he sees one.
He saw that in this Wolves side.
"In the pre-season I could see the quality in the squad," Wilkshire said. "I could see it at every training session.
"I've played at a high level, I've seen overseas, I've seen the international level, I've seen the A-League level and I watch these boys, the things they do, how they train, how they apply themselves.
"I knew in pre-season this team would do well, they're good enough for the A-League."
And while it may have taken a while for the rest of the league to recognise the Wolves were title contenders, they eventually caught on.
On Sunday afternoon Wilkshire's early belief will become reality when the Wollongong Wolves lift the premiers trophy following their match against Marconi at WIN Stadium.
The game will cap a season in which the Wolves have dominated the competition, an entertaining style of football seeing the side scored a league-high 51 goals, and Wilkshire is hopeful the Wollongong community turns out to recognise the team's achievements.
"We've been top of the league from round one until the end, but the numbers haven't changed in terms of supporters at the stadium, which is disappointing.
"I've said it from day one, this is a team the region should be proud of. There is a lot of young local talent and they need to support and back them and they need to acknowledge their success.
"We've got a few big games now at WIN Stadium, which I hope the public will get out and show their support for the boys and also to show the rest of Australian football what this region's about in terms of football and what could and should be here."
For Wilkshire, one of the most pleasing features of this team is that the hunger to win has never waned. When the victories started to pile up, the team remained focused on adding another one to the pile.
Even with the premiership wrapped up this weekend, the Wolves remain as hungry as ever, determined to ensure they lift that trophy post-game in high spirits, having finished the job they set out to do last September.
"The challenge is to be able to continue producing week in, week out. Hopefully we'll get a good crowd, we'll enjoy the day, we'll get presented with the trophy and I expect three points because if we don't win, it will be a bit of a sour note.
"The boys have a lot to play for, they're playing for places in the semi-final, places against Sydney FC. Every game's an opportunity, you can't underestimate any team, they recognise that and they know there will be no celebrations afterwards, because we play Wednesday night against Sydney FC.
"There will be nothing until we win that grand final at Bankwest Stadium."
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