The Murray Valley Cricket Association season will kick-off with a battle of the heavyweights tomorrow.
The Deni Rhinos will host reigning premier Cobram at Memorial Park in a replay of last year’s grand final.
After suffering a heavy loss in that decider, where the result was declared after day one of the two day clash, the Rhinos will be desperate to get revenge on the Tigers.
Veteran Rhinos all-rounder Brad Todd said that despite the result from their last outing, his side is confident heading into the one-day 45 over fixture.
“We knocked them off last year first up at Cobram, so playing them in Deni first up this year will be in our favour,” he said.
“Our wicket has a bit in it first up so hopefully that plays into our hands as we should be used to the conditions.
“It will show us where we stand straight away; we have lost a couple of players from our grand final side (Brenton Loudon and Nick Burnell) and word on the grapevine is that Cobram will have three South Africans playing for them, so they will be the benchmark again this year.
“Our build up has been a little slow, but numbers at training have picked up the past couple of weeks.
“We will be a little underdone as we weren’t able to get a practice match in this year so we may look to have a centre wicket practice on Thursday night (last night).”
Included in the trio of South African imports is the arrival of the Tigers’ newest recruit Rynard de Lange.
The opening bowling star will no doubt help boost Cobram’s title defence for the season, bringing with him a wealth of experience, having played premier cricket in his home nation.
He joins fellow South Africans Wian Van Zyl and Ewald Roberts, who both played a pivotal role in the Tigers’ premiership win last season.
“With three South Africans I would think they will bat quite deep,” Todd said.
“They had a good bowling attack last year so they will be a good all round side.
“At this stage no new players will be debuting for us but there will be a few of our juniors that may get a crack this week as we are missing a couple of guys who are on holidays.
“I think there will be six or seven guys from the grand final side who will play this week.
“Dylan Rotherham and Boddie Arthur, who missed the grand final, will likely play, as well as a couple of younger guys to give the team a mix of youth within it.
“Obviously Hoges (Andrew Hogan) will be prominent again for us, but hopefully some of the younger guys like Dylan (Rotherham) and the Hillier boys (Harry and Charlie) can take the next step and be consistent performers for us.
“Liam Pitts was probably our best batter in the grand final last year so hopefully he can build on that performance throughout this season as well.”
The 45 over match between the Rhinos and Cobram will start at 12.30pm tomorrow.