INAL positions are up for grabs in the short Group 16 pre-season competition on Saturday.
Local clubs the Bega Roosters and Tathra Sea Eagles both face tough tasks.
Meanwhile, Candelo-Bemboka’s reserve grade will travel to Cooma to take on the in-form Cooma Stallions.
The Panthers must win for a hope of making the finals.
The Roosters will be sending four teams to take on the competition heavyweights, the Moruya Sharks, in a sudden death clash in all grades.
The winners will be poised to take part in the pre-season final to be held at the Bega Recreation Ground the following Saturday.
Tathra travels to Eden to face the Eden Tigers.
The Tigers are also in the hunt in three grades - firsts, reserves and league tag - for a finals berth.
Roosters president Garry Arkin said it will be tricky to arrange the final.
“The composition of the final will be a complex affair for Group 16 officials with Narooma Red Devils having the bye and it is almost certain that several clubs will finish on equal points,” Arkin said.
Group 16 president Dean Lynch has been buoyed with the announcement that Koala Kare has taken naming rights of the pre-season reserve grade competition.
Greg Thistleton Building has picked up the naming rights of the under 18 pre-season competition.
Lynch said that with this support rugby league is being kept alive in Group 16 and welcomed the news.
The United Fitness Roosters begin their campaign this weekend in their quest for top honours in 2014.
“It will be long hard road to hoe,” strapper Henry Lucas said.
“But we have some great talent coming through our 18s ranks and the league tag girls are training the place down.
“They need to win by a big margin in the hope they can grab a final position.
“So do the 18s who I am really excited about this season,” Lucas said.
“I’ve got two grandsons in the side, so it will be a year that I’m really looking forward to.
“All the boys are keen as mustard, they are all warming to co-coaches Grant Dowdle and James Scott, so fingers crossed, we’re hoping for a big year,” he said.
Meanwhile, Roosters first grade captain coach Ryan Apps welcomed the return to training of Grant Jessop and several other senior players this week.
Apps made special mention of early trainers Billy Hudson, Lee Scott and Eric Fuller who are benefiting from the February start.
“Moruya are the benchmark and are the defending premiers,” Apps said.
“We know we need to be on our game from the opening whistle.
“If we can keep our errors down and stick to our game plan, then I will be happy at our first real hit out for the season,” Apps said.
Reserve grade captain coach Steven Luff - in his maiden season as playing coach - will be looking to pull together a hard grade.
“Our numbers are gradually improving and my line-up still has vacancies,” Luff said.
“I am hoping for a concerted effort by fringe dwellers to start to turn up for training now.”
Luff’s side has been decimated with a massive player drain and he and team managers Dennis Scott and Shannon Gilmour are working hard on improving the numbers.
“We may have to call up some 18s for this week’s game, which will give them some experience,” Luff said.
“The young blokes’ enthusiasm is great.”
Meanwhile, in the league-tag match Andrew Badullovich has a sibling rivalry to contest.
Badullovich coaches the premier Bega Chicks, while his sister Lana is in charge of the Moruya Sharkettes.
The Sharkettes kicked their season off by taking the scalp of the highly rated Narooma side last weekend.
“Lana was team manager of the Bega Chicks side for the past two seasons and knows our players inside out,” Badullovich said.
“We are expecting a tough match to our season opener.
“Having said that the girls have been training well and we will be looking for a win to start our season in the right manner,” he said.
Arkin said most of the games to played are in the balance due to the weather.
“There has been a lot of rainfall this week up and down the coast and Moruya ground is reported to be closed,” Arkin said.
“It will be a case of wait and see how the weather pans out as to the venue for these all important games.”