A MONTH-LONG stint without a game of footy has felt like a second preseason for Dapto, but the Canaries will be at full strength for the first time this season when they host Helensburgh on Saturday.
The reigning premiers have produced a patchy start to their title defence, edging out Wests in a tight round one clash before notching wins over Corrimal and Berkeley.
They suffered the first regular season loss of captain-coach Michael Henderson tenure in round four before going on a brief hiatus via a bye in a split round six and the deferment of their round five clash with Collegians.
Henderson will make his first on-field appearance of the season while halfback Beau Henry will return after missing the loss to the Butchers.
Back-rower Justin Faughlin said his side are keen to re-find their groove in a run of seven straight games.
“We’re really excited to get out there after a month out. It sort of felt like preseason all over again,” Faughlin.
I think the boys are just raring to get out there. We’re probably not where we wanted to be at this point of the season and now having a month off footy we’re almost starting from scratch.
“It just feels like we haven’t got going yet but we’ve got seven straight games leading into the semis so it’ll be good to try and get that roll on.
“We’re fully fit for the first time so we’re ready to show the competition what we can do.”
Faughlin said said the loss to Butchers was a wake-up call for his side after an unbroken run of 14 straight regular season wins.
“You never want a loss but it felt like we probably needed one,” Faughlin said.
“We didn’t start the season too well and that loss made us stop and realise how hard you have to work to get wins in this league.”
Also in round seven, unbeaten Collegians will host Corrimal on Saturday evening with the Cougars coming off a tough clash with Thirroul in awful conditions last week.
Jimmy Grehan’s men were right in the contest heading into the final stages a fortnight after fighting out a thrilling 20-all draw with Helensburgh in their previous start.
Having got within six points of an upset against Dapto in round two, it leaves a 56-6 flogging at the hands of Wests in round four as the only genuine black mark on their 2017 card.
“The best thing for us was that game against Wests and getting that wake-up call,” Grehan said.
“The last two weeks we’ve turned it around through effort and buying into that effort on effort philosophy.
“We’ve got a lot of young blokes so we’re still learning how to get in that grind. It’s just that maturity level and being a new team.
“We’re starting games poorly at the moment and then we’re chasing. Some silly penalties and errors have at crucial times have really cost us at different stages.
“We’ve got four games in a row now and I’m sure once we turn that little corner of grinding it out and getting a win, it will all start falling into place for us.”