CORRIMAL will usher in the Jimmy Grehan era when they host Berkeley in their round one clash at Ziems Park on Friday night, and it will lean heavily on youth as the Cougars look to mount a return to finals action.
Captain-coach Grehan is the only new addition to the Hardware Man Illawarra League coaching ranks this season, and club young-gun Tony Pellow said the former CRL player of the year has already put his stamp on the club this preseason, despite wet weather limiting time on the paddock.
“Preseason’s been massive for me, I’ve really hooked in with Jimmy there and I’ve learned a lot from him,” Pellow said.
“He’s been massive for the club. He’s raised the bar pretty high and everyone’s trying to get to where he wants us to be. The vibe around the club has really lifted from last year, it’s unreal.
“There’s a lot of new faces, a lot of young boys like myself there that are really working hard for each other and are ready to go. We’ve got Jimmy and a few older heads there that have that experience but we’ve got a very hungry youthful side this year.
“It’s been a long preseason, we haven’t quite got the games in that we wanted. We had six trials teed up and the rain just kept washing us away so everyone’s sweating to get on the footy field.”
The Cougars finished bottom of the table last season, and some aren’t predicting a rapid turnaround in fortunes this season, but Pellow said doubters are just fueling the fire.
“It’s just more motivation really,” Pellow, who’ll form an exciting halves pairing with fellow Dragons NYC alum Jack Payne, said.
“Obviously no one wants to be where we finished up last year. It’s what you play footy for, to be there at the business end of the year so it’s definitely the goal.
“There’s definitely plenty of potential there and if we stick to what we’ve been doing at training, we’ll give the comp a big shake-up.”
The Cougars will certainly be wary of the Eagles, who beat them in the corresponding clash last season and repeated the effort at Berkeley Sports Ground later in the season.
“We haven’t spoken about it but I think everyone knows they beat us twice last year so, we don’t want that happening again this year,” Pellow said.