WOLLONGONG are confident they have the firepower and stamina to reclaim the crown as the state’s best touch football association.
The Devils have added rugby league stars Sam and Adam Clune to the squad, which start the open men’s campaign at Port Macquarie on Friday.
The women’s open team are also chasing success after missing out on the finals last year, while the senior men’s are out to defend their title.
Adding to the Illawarra contingent, the men’s division one team have lost six players from the Vawdon Cup outfit which made the semi-finals, while Albion Park association are sending its first representative team for several years.
Association vice-president Tim Robinson is adamant Wollongong will be up to the test.
“All teams have put in an enormous effort on the training paddock for this campaign,” he said.
“I'm sure we will see great results from that.
“State Cup is the biggest test of the rep season, with teams having to play up to 12 games to win it.
“It's survival of the fittest mentally and physically.”
The competitions features 239 teams in 14 divisions, with defending champions, the senior mixed team drawn in pool A against Easts Roosters, Hills Hornets, Doyalson Dragons and Nelson Bay Neptunes.
Albion Park are in the open B-division men competition, featuring 44 teams.
Wollongong also has four referees officiating at the tournament, including Tony Calabria, who has been included in an elite squad of 12 whistle-blowers for next year’s trans Tasman series between Australia and New Zealand.
Robinson also believes the Wollongong women’s team has what it takes to be a contender.
“It’s a strong side, with the inclusion of former Aussie players Jess McCall and Cara Zaremski.
“They’re aiming at making the quarters, then anything can happen.”
Port Macquarie, Friday-Sunday
Pool A: Japan, Canterbury Bulldogs, Parramatta Eels, St George Dragons, Doyalson Dragons, Hornsby Lions, Bansktown Sports.
Pool B: Wollongong Devils, Penrith Panthers, Easts Roosters, Manly Sea Eagles, Central Coast Dolphins, Donnybrook, Wests Magpies.
Pool A: Canterbury Bulldogs, Norths Bears, Central Coast Colphins, Newcastle City Knights, Manly Sea Eagles.
Pool B: Wollongong Devils, Japan, Easts Roosters, Wests Magpies, Penrith Panthers, Northern Beaches Renegades.