AFTER coming so close last season, Leeton-Whitton will get the 2017 RFL season underway with a trip across to Griffith to take on the old rivals.
The Crows went within four points of a drought-breaking grand final victory last year and have done nothing over the off-season to suggest they won’t be there again when the whips are cracking.
According to coach, Jade Hodge, this has driven the side to get in the best shape possible heading into the season as he looked to address some of the issues the Crows had at the business end of the season.
“Off the back of last year’s close loss we started pre-season in November,” he said.
“The boys wanted to make sure we were in a position where we would be able to hold our own late in the season.
“We have no injuries moving into the season, so there are no excuses from our boys.”
The side has picked up another two Tasmanian recruits in Daniel Muir and Matt Rainbird, while Brad Boots is also returning to the mix along with Mason Dryburgh.
The side has lost some of its youth with Mitchell Hardie moving to Canberra, while Tom Morton and Tom Handsaker have also moved on.
The preseason games for the Crows has left Hodge looking forward to some of the young boys stepping up to take the vacant positions.
“We had a good hit out against Eastlakes in Canberra,” he said.
"I was really happy with how some of the young boys played stepping up from the other sides.”
Heading into the clash with the old foes in Griffith, Hodge knows the side will have to be on its toes.
“No matter where the sides are at during a season they are always close games,” he said.
“They are a well-coached side and we are going to have to perform well as a team defensively to beat them.
“Jordan Ludica and Will Griggs were good for them last year, so we will be looking out for them as well.”
The two sides will face off at Exies Oval to start the season under lights with first bounce set for first grade 6:10 on Saturday, April 22.
Under 17s will get their season underway at 2.20pm with the reserves acting as the curtain raiser at 4pm.