Murray United will look to convert its most productive pre-season into points as the Border outfit commences its 2018 NPL 2 campaign at home against Eastern Lions on Saturday.
After a poor start to last season where only two points were taken from the opening five rounds, Murray coach Elliot Jones admits his players are keen to hit the ground running.
“I think at this stage of the year after a long pre-season, everybody just wants to get out there and play,” Jones said.
“On Tuesday night I actually had to stop the training session and tell everyone to calm down a bit because the competitive juices are definitely flowing.”
Murray dropped its home meeting against Eastern 2-0 last season, but exacted revenge in the away leg, before finishing six points clear of them on the table.
“They were a mid-table side, but one round you’ve got to be prepared for anything,” Jones said.
“I think Eastern will bring a really physical game, they like the tackles to fly in and stuff like that.
“That won’t worry our boys, I think some of our players actually thrive on that physical game.
“They can bring that, but we’ll be prepared.”
Tom Morrison has returned to Murray after lining up with Eastern last season and is set to be a key figure in the forward half.
Josh Mulcahy has also crossed to the club from Albury United, putting pen to paper this week for another stint in the NPL system.
“Josh and I have played a lot of football together,” Jones said.
“Early on he was coming to training and he really adds to the group with his competitiveness and professionalism.
“As the pre-season wore on, he got fitter and fitter and Dunny (captain Ashley Dunn) and myself had a bit of a chat and said ‘we should look at signing this guy.’
“To get him to sign at the last minute is a real buzz for the guys and he brings a different dynamic up top and gives us some options when we go forward.”
New recruit Ryan Luty is the only notable absence and will be another week or two away with a groin strain he carried into pre-season.
Dunn added the expectations are high within the playing group.
“It’s been a good pre-season getting the fitness and the miles in the legs, but at the end of the day you’re not playing for points so you can’t really gauge how you’re going to do,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the game on Saturday and I’m really confident we’re going to get a good result.”
The senior clash kicks-off at La Trobe at 5pm after the under 20s at 3pm.