Warrnambool Wolves playing coach Corrie Shields is relishing the opportunity to hit the road and play the first round of the Australia Cup.
The Wolves have been drawn to play Springvale City at Noble Park at 3pm on Sunday in the preliminary round of the Australia Cup - formerly known as the FFA Cup.
Shields said it'd be a good chance to test where the side is at in the middle of South West Victoria Football Association pre-season.
"We're a little bit disappointed it's not a home game, it'll be the fourth year in a row we haven't got one, but we're pretty keen for it and happy that we're playing in it because we missed last season," he told The Standard.
"It's completely different to training, it takes different fitness levels, and it sort of helps break up the sessions when we have a game to prepare for."
Shields said it was important to get the season off on a positive note with a strong performance in the cup and hoped it would bring the group closer spending time together on the road.
"It'd be a massive boost of confidence (to win), and it'll give us a rough idea with where we're sitting, how we can improve, and this cup gives us an indication of the level we're at," he said.
"You always have a good laugh and a few drinks on the way back and when you spend a lot of time with each other on the bus on the way to the game and back it's great for bonding."
The Wolves are in the midst of pre-season training ahead of the regular season, and took on Port Fairy in a friendly on Wednesday night. It ran 6-2 winners in a performance Shields hopes will translate to the pitch on Sunday.
"It went really well, I was surprised with how well we played, the fitness levels were better than what we thought they were actually," he said of his side's performance.
"Port Fairy are a good side too, they have loads of new numbers, have some really good players, so it was a good game."
Shields said fitness was one of the major focus points ahead of the SWVFA season with the Wolves hoping to build on a terrific 2021 campaign in which the side finished top-of-the-table with nine wins and two losses.
"There's always going to be changes, we've lost maybe three or four players but we've also gained a few as well, so we'll always try to keep the same sort of system going but there will be changes," he said.
"We've focussed on fitness the last few months to get ahead a bit and especially with the Australian Cup you have to be fit to compete, so that's what we're focusing on for this season."
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