MERRIVALE coach Karl Dwyer knows the importance of locking away four points when his men open their season campaign against Allansford.
The Tigers travel to Allansford Recreation Reserve tomorrow to play the Cats in the Warrnambool and District league match of the round.
The contest provides Dwyer, who took over from Jason Porter in the off-season, with the first chance to see his side in a competitive match.
But as well as wanting to see positive signs, the first-year coach is aware the win could prove valuable when finals arrive in mid-August.
“I’ve heard people say our draw is harder than it has been in previous years and looking over it I think that is right,” he said.
“I think we play the other top-four sides from last year twice. If you can get these early ones, it does help.”
Dwyer said he could not be more pleased with the make-up of the Tigers’ list entering round one. He is one of four players who will debut for the club.
Former South Warrnambool coach Matt Peake will also play but most eyes will be on key position recruits Rhys Raymond and Jet Dowie.
“I was lucky in regards to keeping players. That can sometimes take it out of you when you have to be on the phone a lot,” Dwyer said.
“Thankfully, a lot of the list has stuck together. Obviously playing in finals the last three years but being unable to win one, that’s in the back of a few minds.
“(Targeting key position players) has been a strategy. The board, initially they targeted three or four guys and the ones we have picked up all have decent size.”
Allansford will likewise unveil its batch of recruits: Justin Nowell, Ben Lenehan, Joel Cornelissen, Brad Williams, Adam Ryan and Rory Neeson.
Sam Holloway will also play for the first time since round nine, 2013, the last of just four matches the onballer managed due to injury.
Coach Josh Parkinson said he was encouraged by what he had seen during the pre-season.
“They’ve all fitted in really well. Three of them being returned players it wasn’t hard for them to slip back in but the other guys have fitted in well,” he said.
Parkinson believes the Cats will start underdogs against the Tigers.
“Obviously they’ve recruited well and finished higher than us last year.”
He said the appointment of high-performance coaches Cornelissen and Paul Poduska had already paid dividends.
“The high-performance guys have come in and worked them really hard. No one has whinged, bitched or moaned … they’ve put in the work,” he said.
“The focus on recovery has been paramount.
“They’ve really opened the players’ eyes on how we should be preparing and recovering.
“Hopefully that bodes well for round one.”