A CLASH between two neighbouring sides tipped to finish near the top of the ladder will continue a drawn-out first round of the Wimmera Football League on Saturday.
After a third-placed finish in 2017 the Warrack Eagles will be the first side to host league newcomers the Southern Mallee Giants in what promises to be an exciting encounter.
Warrack Eagles coach Ryan McKenzie said despite the loss of some key players his side would look very familiar to the one that bowed out in the preliminary final.
Returning players Nick Peters, Jake Peters and Jeremy Clayton will add to the side while Travis Lawson will cover some of size lost by the departure of Scott Adams and Jesse Muprhy.
“I think wining the midfield battle and getting enough supply to our forwards will be crucial,” he said.
“I feel we’ve got a pretty potent forward line that can kick a winning score.”
The side will rely on spreading the attacking workload in order to conjure goals during the new season.
McKenzie said his side will not rely on any one player to kick 70 or 80 goals.
“I’ll probably spend a little bit more time forward this season with the midfield depth that we’ve added and we’ll be looking for all six forwards to chip in,” he said. “We haven’t got that big power forward who can kick bags for us.”
McKenzie said a number of changes in the Giants squad meant they were certainly an unknown force.
“I watched them a bit in finals last season but they’ve had players come and go,” he said.
“Coleman Schache will be the main one I think we will need to shut down from the start of the contest. He is one of their better midfielders that can really drive them forward.”
Giants coach Schache said he was happy with how prepared his side was for the opening round.
“We’ve done all that we can and now I just can’t wait until Saturday,” he said.
He said he had drilled a heightened need for consistency into his side during pre-season as it looks to adjust to the higher standard of competition.
“We probably need to make sure our skills are a bit cleaner following on from our scratch matches,” he said.
“If we are below par in the Wimmera league we are just going to get goals scored against us. We need to adapt to the pressure quickly.”
Schache expected Nick Peters to have a big impact for the home side while Tyler Lehmann, Liam Price and Sam Weddell would be important for his side.
He said playing against a neighbouring side in the opening round added a bit more to the encounter.
“It’s certainly made it a bit more interesting in the area,” he said.
“Not that we needed any extra motivation.”