FINALLY it’s here. Kickoff has been starved of action in our absolute favourite rugby league competition so far this season, with wet weather largely putting paid to the preseason Challenge Cup.
It makes is somewhat difficult to get a read on the Hardware Man Illawarra League that kicks off this weekend, starting with Corrimal versus Berkeley at Ziems on Friday night and the northern derby between Helensburgh and Thirroul on Saturday.
Saturday will also see last year’s grand final combatants Dapto and Wests renew their rivalry at Parrish Park. A lot can happen in a season but, at a cursory glance, Dapto deserve the often unwanted tag of preseason favouritism.
Michael Henderson has kept the bulk of his title-winning roster together and those youngsters who came through last season are a year more hardened.
Daniel Holdsworth is the notable out for the Devils who look a lot more youthful than years past and, as we’ve seen over and over again in this league, that is very often a recipe for success – particularly with a coach as well-credentialed as Brett Kimmorley at the helm.
Saturday is sure to see an absolute ripper of a clash, hopefully the first of many in country footy’s toughest league this season.
May the skies stay blue and the tins stay cold.