ALBURY Thunder coach Josh Cale has installed Southcity and Orange CYMS as the favourites to take out the lucrative West Wyalong Knockout.
With the Bulls having won the past two pre-season competitions and Orange CYMS winning last year’s Group 10 premiership, Cale said yesterday he would be surprised if both teams didn’t go deep into Saturday’s action.
“Southcity has won the past two years and will obviously be strong and Orange CYMS have been strong for a long time,” Cale said.
“Michael Sullivan will have them well drilled.
“They will feature somewhere on the Saturday.
“West Belconnen should be handy as well if they can get over Southcity first-up.
“There are a lot of good sides playing.”
Cale is also confident of a bold performance from his all-conquering line-up, with only centre Mitch Seaton (knee) to miss its opening round tussle against Leeton tomorrow night.
Big name players Lou Goodwin, Mitch Davis and Ben Jeffery will play along with recruits Cameron Breust and Adam Coote.
Cale said Leeton would present a huge first-up test.
“We played Leeton in a trial last year and they nearly rolled us,” he said.
“I think we won by two points and were very lucky.
“They will be strong so hopefully we can jag a win.”
The defending Group 9 premier is planning to keep things simple in the $14,000 knockout with the season proper still two months away from kicking off.
“We spoke about it at training and the big thing is completions,” Cale said.
“We will come out of the gates and try and get into a rhythm.
“We will be rusty as we haven’t played a trial, but whoever controls the ball will do well.”
The six first-round winners and best performed loser will advance to Saturday’s quarter-finals alongside Orange CYMS, who have been gifted a first-up bye.
The final will be played at 9.30pm on Saturday.