NEW Jindera captain Ryan Speed believes the pressure valve has been released following the departure of half of last year's grand final side.
While Speed conceded it wasn't the ideal start to a season, Speed said the Andrew Wilson-coached Bulldogs were determined to maintain their high standards of the past three years.
"Obviously we made the grand final last year and have lost a few players and, when teams lose players, people tend to write them off pretty quickly," Speed said.
"There is no pressure now.
"If we can take big scalps and even sneak into the finals then so be it.
"It's exciting heading into a new season."
Speed was promoted to the job after his good mate and former skipper Danny Middleton moved to Queensland over the off-season.
The talented midfielder said Wilson had a knack of instilling belief into the playing group despite losing players of the ilk of Trent Castles, Sam Myors, Dylan Pettingill, Rhys Preston, Jesse Wellington, Ben Dower and Middleton.
"He's been fantastic," Speed said.
"He's a bloke who has been at the club for a number of years and knows the ins and outs of the club.
"He's a great peoples' person and the way he communicates messages is second to none.
"All the kids and older guys have really jumped on board."
Although Speed is full of optimism entering round one, he concedes challenges don't come any bigger than playing Brock-Burrum in a replay of last year's grand final on Saturday.
Saint big-man and Des Kennedy Medalist Matt Seiter believes the premiership race is wide open.
"From all the reports four or five teams have really good lists," Seiter said.
"Culcairn and Henty have good lists and Jindera played in three straight grand finals so you can't count them out either.
"It's probably who gets their stuff together the most from a mental side of things.
"It's really even out there.
"Osborne from reports look like the one.
"They get players from Wagga and out there so they go under the radar so the more you can talk about them the better."
Seiter said he expected Eddy Ziebarth and Aidan Johnson to move to the O and M from midway through last season and hopes Tyson Neander and John Spencer can fill the void.