Two Picola District Football League powerhouses will square off this weekend in a round one blockbuster at Deniliquin.
Strathmerton, with five consecutive grand final appearances, will travel to tackle the Deniliquin Rovers, a side almost certain to be on the rise this year.
The Roos have stocked up talent heading into the new campaign, and coach Josh Bode said as a result his side was excited to get into the action.
‘‘It’s been a huge pre-season, we’ve recruited pretty well and numbers have been great, so we’re looking forward to getting out on the track,’’ Bode said.
‘‘When I came on board I told the committee we need to be recruiting A-graders — and we’ve been able to do that.
‘‘We got Aaron Purcell and Des Morgan early and they’re guys at our level that can be really good footballers.’’
They’ve also added Nathan and Dylan Kerr who showed strong signs in practice matches, as well as Alex Hay and James Gilligan, all talents who will rotate through the midfield and drive their side’s rise up the table.
The Bulldogs have recruited well with power forward Tom Campbell the main attraction, but coach Tim Bramich said height and big-bodied midfielders were a priority.
And heading into round one he said the Roos presented an interesting challenge.
‘‘The playing group is pretty good, we’ve got a couple of niggles heading in, but we’re good to go,’’ Bramich said.
‘‘It will be interesting to see how (the Roos) are, they’ve added quality and playing up there is always tough.
‘‘We’re looking for a winning start against a side a lot people are saying could be pretty competitive.
‘‘Pre-season has been about getting a more even contribution out of our guys, not just the top half-a-dozen.
Bode said the unified 13-team league would bring new challenges to his club — something the Roos were ready to embrace.
‘‘Back in the day, even playing a few years ago we’d play against your Waaias and Katungas,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s like the Picola league is getting back to its grassroots and it’s another challenge for us to overcome.
‘‘Strathy have normally been slow starters to seasons and really peaked late.
‘‘We don’t know much about them, but they’ve been in the last five grand finals so they’ve obviously got quality and present a challenge.’’
Bramich was excited to renew the rivalries with the other sides — but said it would have been nice to know when recruiting.
‘‘It’s good to be able to play them, but obviously we didn’t recruit to play Waaia or Katamatite or the other teams,’’ he said.