Soccer: Rovers coach drops himself
LISMORE rivals Richmond Rovers and Workers will kick off the Far North Coast premiership soccer season tonight.
The game is set down for Nielson Park, East Lismore, starting at 8pm.
The two sides will be more than familiar with each other after already meeting twice in the Anzac Cup, with Rovers winning each time by two goals.
Rovers' early success has put them through to the Anzac Cup final, but the defending major premiers' focus will now switch to accumulating premiership points.
"We've been in really good form in the Anzac Cup, now it's time to hit the ground running in the premiership," Rovers player-coach Bobby Bugden said.
"The guys' attitude is good and we've upped the ante at training, so every- thing's in place for starting on the right foot."
Bugden will field a full-strength side and has so many players in good form that he has dropped himself to reserves.
His place will be taken by Jacob Heffernan, who will combine with classy strikers Jonathan See and Matthew Olley up front.
With a supporting midfield featuring captain Russell Dent, former Thistles livewire Jake Nind and the creative Kurt Walker, Rovers already have the look of serious premiership contenders.
Workers coach Zac Crowley is well aware of that.
"They're the best attacking side in the comp, so the key for us will be defensive solidarity and then trying to catch them off guard on the counter," he said.
The Redmen will be missing experienced defender Daune Hoare and quicksilver flanker Ben Sharkey, but still have some quality players capable of giving Rovers a testing encounter.
Jonty Miller is likely to play as a lone striker with midfielders Paddy Kable and Sam Sharkey sure to push forward when they can, while Jay Keevers will be critical to organising their defence.
In other first round games tomorrow, Bangalow will host the local derby against 2015 minor premiers Byron Bay; Thistles travel to Alstonville; and newly promoted Italo Stars have the home advantage at Barrow Lane, North Lismore, against Lennox Head.
One game will be played on Sunday, with Goonellabah expected to win their home clash with Casino.