Rob Heritage has coached enough teenage boys to understand what it takes to build a successful football team.
The on-field portion is important, but it still makes up only a small aspect of the winning formula.
Off the field, however, is crucial and can play a key role in determining a team's results throughout the season.
That's why Heritage has placed a heavy emphasis on building a supportive team environment and developing well-rounded young men since taking over the Illawarra under 18s rugby side.
The coach has appointed Freddy Purcell as the team's head of pastoral care and the pair have ensured all players involved in the squad have completed community service throughout the past couple of months.
The most recent was a Christmas toy drive, with players handing over gifts at Wollongong Hospital on Thursday.
"Rugby union is a big part of your life education," Heritage said. "We want the kids to learn through us, learn honesty, discipline, etiquette and hopefully use those skills when they grow old.
"It's all about the whole well-being of the boys. What we want to do ultimately is set kids on the right path in life. Providing a positive outlook for the future is very important.
"Today in any sporting organisation dealing with youths, this is part of their journey. For us as coaches, we're helping the boys through their life journey as they go on to senior rugby."
With teenage player numbers dwindling in the Illawarra in recent years, the decision was made to enter an under 18s team in the Sydney competition in 2022 in place of a local league.
Heritage, who has coached for more than a decade in Sydney and the Illawarra, was appointed to lead the squad in what is hoped to be a successful season.
The team has started pre-season training, with trial matches to commence in the new year.
While the competition is likely to be fierce in Sydney, Heritage has backed the Illawarra's best juniors to match it with their city rivals.
"I want to set a benchmark," Heritage said. "Hopefully every other junior team in the Illawarra can follow through and make that standard, prove they're up to that Sydney standard.
"There's a lot of competition in the Illawarra with rugby league, my plan is to push and promote and hopefully get more kids playing rugby in the future.
"One of my other visions is to hopefully get some kids in the pathways program through Country Rugby and the Shute Shield. We want to push these kids up, if they're good enough, they should be playing in the bigger clubs in Sydney."