The battle lines have been drawn and the stage is set for the resumption of one of the strongest rivalries in Murray Football League.
Echuca United and Moama will contest the Three Jacks Trophy once more today, and both sides are raring to go ahead of respective seasons full of hopeful expectation.
The Eagles have again significantly bolstered their ranks during summer with another massive recruiting drive, and coach Guy Campbell was happy that competition for spots in the senior side was at an all-time high.
‘‘No-one is in a comfortable zone at this point in time,’’ Campbell said.
‘‘There’s huge competition for spots, and it’s all about earning your stripes and playing well enough to cement your place.’’
Former Tatura ruckman Paul Kirby is a huge inclusion for Campbell’s squad, with the veteran likely to have a big impact in today’s fixture.
‘‘I’ve played a lot of footy with Paul,’’ Campbell said.
‘‘I’m rapt to have him involved, he adds to an area we probably needed to improve on from last year.’’
Echuca stars Jordan Florance and Nathan Bottomley will also add plenty to the Eagles’ list, but rumours Campbell himself will be lining up may be off the mark — although he is prepared if need be.
‘‘I’ve enjoyed doing the pre-season and I’ve got myself in good nick,’’ Campbell said.
‘‘So if that day comes along (where I have to play) then I’ve already put in the work.
‘‘I’d much rather have done the pre-season and not be needed than wish I had (if injuries mount up).’’
There will be plenty of competition for spots off the field at Echuca South Recreation Reserve as well today with a huge crowd expected to flock to this marquee fixture, but Campbell was confident his charges could keep a level head.
‘‘We don’t sort of get too involved in (worrying about the crowd), but it’s hard not to when it’s your home game this year,’’ he said.
‘‘It is going to be a huge game and it always is.
‘‘We’ve had a ripping off-season and we’re very happy with how everything’s going, so it’s shaping as a really good year.’’
For Moama, the return of the big-bodied Angus Grigg could unlock a formula for success.
Mark Lloyd will be able to throw star defender Luke Dunham back into defence where he belongs and combine Grigg with Tyler Jones as one of the most potent attacking duos in the league.
With young full-back Logan Power also in the mix, it gives the Magpies one of the best spines in the business.
A handful of rising stars have moved on from Moama, but Lloyd will still be confident in the ability of his side to get the job done today on the big stage.
The Three Jacks Trophy — which is played annually in honour of Moama’s Jack Eddy, Echuca South’s Jack Hay and Echuca East’s Jack O’Neill — will be live streamed via sheppnews.com.au from 1.45pm today.