GOONDIWINDI is three weeks away from completing an undefeated Wagners Risdon Cup fixture season and rival club can blame the lessons learned from last season for the Emu's ominous 2018 performance.
Coach Luke Fritz said the scars of successive grand final losses were continuing to drive the Emus in their premiership quest and with no sign this year of a "representative hangover” lingering he's confident the team's best football may still be ahead of it.
Three regular Cup rounds remain with Goondiwindi to play Bears, Roma and Rangers as it looks to take an unbeaten 2018 record into the finals' series.
With the Darling Downs, Southern Queensland and Queensland Country rep year complete, Goondiwindi has returned to full strength - minus only fullback George Stacey and that threatens further bad news for their fellow premiership contenders.
"I think what we found difficult last year was in the rep season,” Fritz said following the Emus' win last Saturday over Highfields.
"We didn't cope too well with that and we didn't cope too well when the boys come home.
"I think their heads are not quite there. I think they thought they were a bit better than what they were.
"We've had a rude shock the last two years, obviously losing the last two grand finals.
"I think it's been a big wake-up call - last year especially.
"We responded really well when our rep boys were away this year with a couple of good, hard wins.
"And when the rep boys did come back they slotted straight back in and started working for us straight away, whereas last year we lost a bit of momentum during that rep period.
"I don't think we have peaked yet, that's for sure.
"Dalby last week was a real good test for us and we're not there confidently to say we've got them, so there's still work to do.
"The fact we haven't peaked yet gives us a bit of drive at training.”