KEIRA will be using last season's grand final loss as motivation heading into the opening round of the new Illawarra Cricket season that kicks off with one-day matches today.
Captain Graeme Batty said that the pain of falling at the final hurdle last year will fuel their campaign when it begins against Wests at Keira Oval this afternoon.
"They know what the goal is ... I don't need to tell them," Batty said.
"We were obviously disappointed how it ended being undefeated all year and losing the grand final. The boys want to go one-step further."
Batty said that his players - renowned for their batting - will be more balanced across the park, with the addition of leg-spinning all-rounder Daniel Laus from Randwick and the medium pace of former Dapto and Northern Districts captain Tommi Bozinovski.
"Daniel Laus has played in Sydney and Bozinovski has been at Dapto and Northern Districts and won premierships there, so they'll bring some good experience to the side," Batty said.
Last season's top run-scorer also welcomed the return of two-day matches, believing it will play to his side's batting strength.
"I think two-day cricket brings out the best team," he said.
"One-dayers can be a bit of a lottery but it [two-day cricket] brings back that more strategic cricket."
"That's been our strength the past three years."
Helensburgh are at home to University and captain Tim Lloyd said it will be the beginning of a tough season carrying the defending premiers tag.
"We're going to be the big target this season," Lloyd said.
"Everyone is going to be pumped up to play us, so there's not going to be an easy game this year."
It was the bowling attack, spearheaded by Lloyd, that propelled the Burgh to last year's title.
But the skipper believes his side's premiership defence will rest on their ability with the stick.
"I say it at the start of every season, runs will determine how well we go because we know we've got the bowlers who can do the job," Lloyd said.
Lloyd said the addition of British opener Xavier Smith and Duncan Hunt from Randwick-Petersham will make up for the loss of Mitch McCrae to the Sydney competition.
"Xavier Smith's been playing Liverpool Premier League and Duncan Hunt is a top order batsmen as well, so we're hoping that they can fill the void that Mitch has left."
Lloyd said that his side will still look to utilise their ability with the ball in the longer two-day matches.
Elsewhere in the competition, Wollongong will play Northern Districts at North Dalton, Corrimal face Port Kembla at Ziems and Dapto take on Balgownie at Reed Park.