There are plenty of reasons to be excited about grand finalist Shepparton United opening its season against Shepparton.
Taking the court for their annual Good Friday clash, the co-tenants are tipped to again finish on the upper rungs of the ladder.
The Demons defeated the Bears in order to take their spot in last season’s Goulburn Valley League netball decider, where they were unable to stop a rampant Kyabram.
But United captain Kirsty Hommes has tipped Shepparton as flag favourite and is not placing too much expectation on her young side.
‘‘I suppose with all the young ones coming in, the grand final has been and gone and by no means do we think we’ll automatically make it again,’’ Hommes said.
‘‘The Bears are the best contenders to take out the premiers, so they’re my tip for number one favourite.
‘‘Jess (Barnes-Hill), Bree (Hanslow) and myself are over 30 and everyone else is under 19, so it’s just about trying to teach these young ones a few things.’’
One of the Demons’ most experienced performers — Kate Durling — will line-up for today’s rival after more than 350 games at the Demons.
Hommes said she wished nothing but the best for a player she had spent countless hours on court with.
‘‘She’s a good friend of mine and talking to her this week she’s very nervous about coming up against us, I see her a fair bit and she’s looking very fit this season,’’ she said.
Shepparton coach Tracey Brereton has not been able to fault the midcourter’s transition to her side, praising her professionalism.
She is not the only injection of experience to hit an already fierce Bears outfit with Ash Cann returning for her first game after giving birth to twins.
‘‘Along with Ash there are so many little stories within our group of people coming back from injuries and niggles and pregnancies, but she’s (Cann) been training really well, she’s close to being back to her best,’’ Brereton said.
Entering her 11th season at the helm, the interleague coach has seen plenty of opening round matches and will not be basing her views on the season around this match.
‘‘I think it’s always a mixed round, there are some really good passages of play and some really crappy passages of play, but I think that’s the nature of round one in any sport,’’ she said.
‘‘It’ll be a close contest and a good contest ... it’ll be interesting, but I don’t think it’ll dictate the season whatever the result.’’