Sights set on Kangaroos


A REMATCH of last year’s grand final will underscore the opening round of the North Gippsland Football Netball League next weekend.

Heyfield will unfurl its 2012 premiership flag ahead of the clash against long time foes Rosedale on Sunday.

Roos coach Adrian Cox is fully aware his side will be “hunted”, and the competition will be watching on Sunday as the nine other teams take aim at the reigning premiers.

The attention will do little to distract a side who is looking to take their on and off field operations to another level.

The appointment of premiership player Damien Birss as assistant coach is expected to reap benefits for the Kangaroos, whose return will allow Cox to focus more on the match at hand while Birss attends to strategic moves from the bench.

With a tough assignment first up, Rosedale will travel to Gordon Recreation Reserve for one of the hardest matches on the fixture.

Taking to the field under new coach Nick Leechino, the Blues will be without many of last year’s grand final list.

Midfield dynamo Justin Emery has signed at Boolarra, Craig and Darryl Mayman are moving on and the side will miss the impact of fleet footed pair Dale Fleming and Adam Diamond.

A sour taste still lingers in the mouths of many Blues players and last year’s bridesmaids are hungry for premiership success this season.

The grand final replay offers a belated chance to reverse last year’s result and crash the Roos’ post premiership party.

Leechino will not, however, use this as the side’s motivation on the track this weekend.

“It won’t be our focus at training; we will be treating it as any other game,” he said.

“We’re not looking for or talking about redemption in round one.

“The side is looking forward to the first game; we have drawn a tough draw and that will certainly give us an indication as to where we are at early on,” he said.

Glengarry will be aiming to open its campaign with a first up win against Sale City.

Magpies coach Ryan Potter is looking forward to his side’s opening clash to gauge his team’s pre-season progress.

“It will be a good indication first up of our side’s development over the off season,” he said.

“We played a couple of hard games against them last year and the guys are keen to put in the hard work and get our season off to the right start.”

Sale City coach Joel Brayshaw will be welcomed to the coaching caper with one of the toughest opening assignments.

Not daunted by a tough first month of fixtures, Brayshaw will be looking to his experienced players to lead from the front in what should be a classic contest.

Churchill Cougars will host Cowwarr in a tantalising contest which promises plenty.

After bowing out of the finals race at Gaskin Park last season, the Saints return to the ground where their tilt at 2012 premiership glory was abruptly halted under dramatic circumstances.

With both sides’ season ending in disappointment, a first up win would be a big morale boost to the winner.

Set to unearth a number of young stars in a new look Boisdale/Briagolong line-up, coach Daniel Sandeman is aiming to get the season off on the front foot with a victory over Woodside.

“It would be great to get off with a first up win at home, but we know that we are playing a footy club that is in the same situation as us,” Sandeman said.

“They have recruited well and are also out to improve.

“We play three of our first five matches at home (and) it would be great if we could make the most of our home ground advantage (which is) something that we haven’t utilised fully before and really make it a ground that opposition clubs dislike the trip to,” he said.

Armed with limited knowledge about his adopted league, one thing Woodside coach Chris Pettit does know is that beating the Bombers is pivotal.

“Everyone’s fit; we’re ready to go there’s no excuse,” Pettit said.

Gormandale and Traralgon Tyers United will both take to the field under the guidance of new coaches who are eager to see improvement.

The Tigers faithful will welcome the return of a number of old faces among 15 recruits to Tigerland.

Bombers fans also have plenty to cheer about with the return of several well known players including Michael Hall, Adam Brady and Justin Palmer, who are set to strengthen their outfit.

Returning to the Bombers, coach Matt Stolarczyk has likened the first four games of the season to practice matches.

“The first four or so games of the season give you an indication as to where you are at and how we are playing and matching up against opposition sides,” he said.

“We have recruited like all sides and have secured some more mature bigger body players that will complement our list; we have been training hard since late January and are ready to go.”