Comets face tough start to season

COFFS Harbour coach Warren Gilkinson knows that his team face a daunting task to open their 2010 season.

Not only do the Comets have to face reigning premier Sawtell in their season opener tomorrow but they have to face the top three teams of 2009 in their opening three matches of the year.

Once the match against Sawtell is complete, Coffs Harbour then turn their concentration to Macksville before facing Bellingen.

A tough ask but Gilkinson wouldn’t have it any other way. He believes that the tough start lets him know exactly how his team is travelling early on.

“We’re going to take it game by game but our first step is to play Sawtell and they’re the benchmark so we’ll see where we are after that,” Gilkinson said.

“We’re not making any predictions as to where we’re going to finish, we’ll just take it game to game and then towards the end of the year we’ll know where we’re standing.”

Never one to make bold predictions, the aspect of the current playing group that the coach is most pleased with is the way that they’ve gelled together as mates off the field.

“We’ve done a lot of rebuilding and the guys have really got behind me and they’re all happy,” he said.

It will have to be a happy group to topple the reigning premiers though.

Even a group that will be without the services of valuable players such as Luke Hemsworth, Damien Irvine and Dan Waterson tomorrow.

Panthers’ captain-coach Rohan Loudon believes that his side isn’t as advanced in the preparation stakes as they were at this time last year.

“We haven’t as many games as last year so game fitness wise we’re probably a month away from where we want to be so we’ll pretty much ease it I think this year,” Loudon said.

Be that as it may, the cagey half knows that the adrenaline that comes from facing your fiercest rival should help them overcome any issues that the lack of match fitness may normally create.

“It will be on and in all grades, it should be good,” he said.

“There’ll be a big crowd there and everyone’s keen to have a run I think after a long pre-season.”

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