RIVERINA open coach Luke Berkrey is confident they have the artillery to challenge a star-studden Western side littered with NRL experience in Saturday's clash at West Wyalong's Ron Crowe Oval.
Prop Josh Starling, who boasts 80 NRL games with Souths, Manly and Newcastle, ex-NRL and English Super League outside back Justin Carney and back rower Chris Grevsmuhl (47 NRL games) headline the first Rams side picked in four years.
Berkrey highlighted the Bulls back row as a major strength, as well as their size advantage out wide featuring a handful of players from Group 20 outfit Griffith.
There's a few guys not available but we're still very confident with the team that we've got will go very well against a really strong Western team," Gundagai captain Berkrey said.
"It's a tough time of year but I was really surprised with the (strength of) the team we've come up with.
"I think the forward pack and in particular the back row is one of the better ones you'll see anywhere in bush footy in Levi Freeman, Tom Sellers and Lou Goodwin.
"They're obviously three really good players and there's some massive boys in the outside backs as well. The Griffith boys from all reports are very damaging."
Brekrey said he is unsure where Carney will play after he started the year with Nyngan Tigers at lock before reverting back to centre.
"Whoever marks up on him certainly has a big job on their hands," Berkrey said.
"It's the same with Josh Starling in the front row and Chris Grevsmuhl too, it will be no easy day.
"I know they (Western) have got some very fast outside backs and they may be a bit smaller than us in those positions, but they'll test us with their speed.
"Especially now the competition has gone to an under-23 concept, it's hard for anyone over that age to play much rep footy so they'll be looking to make the most of every opportunity they're going to get."
The under-23 Riverina squad named to take on Western on Saturday will use their match as preparation before their annual tournament begins in February.
"Our squad is looking pretty good with similar players from the last couple of years, and we got pretty good numbers on Saturday (at a training session in Wagga)," Riverina coach Jody Rudd said.
"One of the main reasons (getting the squad together) is a lot of guys weren't available for the trial match, so it was good to get a look at them."
A women's 13-player clash between the Wagga Kangaroos and Yenda, with a handful of players from other teams to make up the numbers, is also expected to take place on Saturday.
RIVERINA OPEN TEAM
1. Josh Veivers, 2. Aboro Navori, 3. John Silla, 4. Villiami Ngu, 5. Etu Uaisele, 6. Jordan Anderson, 7. Cameron Bruest, 8. Joel Field, 9. James Woolford, 10. Hayden Philip, 11. Levi Freeman, 12. Tom Sellers, 13. Lou Goodwin, 14. Matt Forsyth, 15. Tom Warner, 16. Jake Dooley, 17. Jack Lyons, 18. Saulala Hauma, 19. Harley Hey.
RIVERINA UNDER-23 TEAM
1.Tye Fletcher, 2. Kirtis Fisher, 3. Matt Lyons, 4. Mitch Bennett, 5. Eddie Jackson, 6. Dylan McLachlan, 7. Josh Fisher, 8. Reece Wilesmith, 9. Jeremy Wiscombe, 10. D'andre Williams, 11. Daniel Fisher, 12. Jayke Hogan, 13. Brody Tracey, 14. Jordan Little, 15. Timoci Vatubuli, 16. Jock Ward, 17 Elwyn Ravu, 18. Cody Collins.