Group 16 Rugby League gets underway this weekend with round one of the Grand Hotel first grade competition at three separate venues.
Games will be played in all divisions with reserves, under 18s and ladies league tag supporting the first grade pre-season competition.
After a dominant showing at the Nines tournament the Moruya Sharks are standout favourites for another premiership.
Bega Roosters president Garry Arkin described the Sharks’ performance as “scintillating” as they beat all-comers on Sunday.
Arkin said Jake Clarke and Dennis Green played exceptionally and looked to be “absolute certainties” for the Group 16 and Indigenous Allstars match.
The Sharks travel to Narooma in the local derby on Saturday in what should be a game that has all the earmarks of a fiery contest.
The Narooma Red Devils will go in as slight underdogs, Arkin said it is a “position that captain coach Todd Ayres is looking to spring a surprise from in round one”.
To assist the cause Ayres and Todd Wright are expected to take their places on the field and with Justin Keegan, Kane Ayres, Riley Hextell and the “bulldozer” Kyle Barnell, the Devils supporters hopes are high on providing an upset.
Meanwhile, the Sharks will be looking forward to the return of the Brierleys, Aaron and Caine to bolster their squad.
In other games, the Eden Tigers rounded out the Nines tournament as runners-up.
Arkin said captain Billy Michelin would have been very pleased with his squad’s performance.
“Veteran Leigh Hennessey the pick of the forwards and Dylan Fletcher, Michael Wykes, Zac Mikula and Corey Schaefer all solid contributors,” Arkin said.
“The Tigers face off against Candelo-Bemboka in another Saturday fixture, with two other supporting acts in the shape of Under 18s where the Bega Roosters will take Merimbula-Pambula-Bemboka and ladies tag,” Arkin said.
Featuring a number of league-tag’s top performers from last year, Arkin said “a great day of rugby league is assured”.
Meanwhile, the Tathra Sea Eagles will host the Cooma Stallions at Tathra.
Arkin said although the Sea Eagles’ Nines tournament outcome was “disappointing” the club was looking up with the appointment of new coach Willie McDonald and a couple of exciting new prospects.
Cooma also didn’t make its usual strong showing at the tournament, but supporters said the club was down on the day and still showed strength in the forward exchanges.
Arkin said with a number of key players set to line-up for Cooma the squad would be “bolstered by their return”.
He said he was looking forward to seeing all the teams in action and couldn’t wait to see his own club back on the paddock.
Arkin said the Roosters had shown “glimpses of form”, but were not at their best missing a few key players, while captain coach Ryan Apps was a standout during the Nines.
Arkin said Hayden Parbery gave up a couple of penalties, but was solid and the young guns of James Bower-Scott, Cael Kelly and Todd Ingram were the pick of players showing great form.
Meanwhile, Arkin said the reformed Candelo-Bemboka Panthers were a “surprise packet” and will head in to the reserves pre-season as favourites after an excellent showing at the tournament.
“Captain coach Michael Edmunds led by example and received good support from Jamie Glen and Michael Motbey,” Arkin said.
Arkin said the league tag competition was looking better than ever and selectors would be out in force as Group 16 looks for a curtain raiser match to the Indigenous v Group 16 Allstars match in April.