18 months since they last took to the field, the Goulburn City Bulldogs only have five more days until their 2021 campaign gets underway.
Three of the club's senior sides will take to the Goulburn Workers Arena on Sunday, April 11, for the first round of the Canberra Region Rugby League competitions against the West Belconnen Warriors.
The pre-season has been disrupted for the Bulldogs, particularly when their second set of trial games against the Picton Magpies were called off due to wet weather, but First Grade co-coach, Tyson Greenwood, said the team will play its hardest and use the match as an opportunity to experiment with combinations.
"At the start of the season, you're still trying to work on combos and see where a bloke will shine and where he won't," Greenwood said.
"In the second round of trials, we were going to concentrate on getting our combos right, so we might have missed that opportunity but just like every other year, you're allowed to try things out in the first couple of games."
As six of the nine CRRL teams did not play in 2020 due to COVID-19, including the Warriors, Greenwood does not know what to expect this weekend.
"I think they've had a big reshuffle and they're depending on a lot of their junior base to step up and have a crack at First Grade, which is great," he said.
"I think that'll be the feel through the Group Eight comp this year, because we're giving a lot of local boys a crack this year as well. Hopefully we can be on par with them and come away with the win."
Due to a spate of retirements and player relocations, the Goulburn side will look vastly different in 2021.
With a number of former Under 19s players expected to make their First Grade debuts on Sunday, Greenwood is pleased to see some newer members of the team growing into positions of leadership.
"Tommy Croker's really stepped up as a leader, and it's looking like Dillon Rota will find his voice and take control of the backs," he said.
"I think we'll be strong across the park."
While the Bulldogs' preparations have gone as well as possible, the most pleasing aspect for the club has been the anticipation and excitement ahead of the first round.
"When we played that first trial game [against the Mittagong Lions], everyone was buzzing after it," Greenwood said.
"I think everyone was just happy to be back on the field. It's a long time between games for them, particularly for the boys who didn't play last year.
"It's a bit nervy coming into round one, but hopefully we've prepared well and we can come away with a win."
Sunday's fixtures will get underway with the CRRL League Tag at noon, followed by Reserve Grade at 1.30pm and First Grade at 3pm.
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