Tough road trip for Kangas

THE Kangaroos face a tough trip up the highway to Ellem Oval to start their season against a resurgent Tigers outfit.

It will be a different-looking Kangaroos lining up after their heavy grand-final loss, with club legends Greg Jarman and Jason Mayer returning to the fold. Dean Funston comes with strong wraps from south of the border to join his captain-coach brother, Darren.

They will be inconvenienced by the loss of Sam Dawes who was instrumental in the Kangaroos’ strong performances during his stay. Also missing will be the under-rated duo of Ryan Wood and Michael Kerr.

North Coffs started their year off well by winning the Tablelands Cup pre-season tournament in Armidale.

This would suggest the side is still capable of playing a prominent part in finals action again this season.

Grafton will pose a stern test and have performed admirably against the Kangaroos in recent outings.

Their side looks strong on paper, with Rod Newman and Grahame Blackwell donning the coaching caps as the Tigers look to improve on their fifth place last season.

Kodie O’Malley and Adrian Campbell come from strong AFL areas, and will be joined by a few other fresh-faced recruits.

Add this to the potential of representative stars, Daniel Zacek and Justin Darby, and Grafton have the right platform for improvement this season.

The loss of Dale Beaver is a big one, but the Tigers have the potential to cause an upset if they can compete in the middle.