AFTER a year's hiatus, the AFL South Coast's men's side will return to the field on Saturday, when they travel up to Pasterfield Sports Complex to take on AFL Hunter Central Coast.
Although they smashed Sapphire Coast by 99 points in 2017, coach Rod Richards knows this will a much harder proposition.
"Traditionally, going back to their Black Diamond League days, the Hunter Central Coast are a very strong footy region," Richards said.
Richards, who has represented AFLSC on 16 occasions (10 as a player and six as coach), knows first hand how much a win on Saturday would mean to the whole of the South Coast competition - which continues to grow each and every year.
"Hunter Central Coast will be our toughest opponent in quite some time, which shows the improvement within the side," Richards, who has never lost as coach of the AFLSC side, said.
"I can remember going down to Wagga Wagga as a player in 2008 and we were in tier three, while the Hunter were in tier one - we weren't even allowed on the same field as them. But now we have quite a few guys in the side who have played at a high level, so I'm looking forward to seeing them flex their muscles and showing us all what their about.
"Ten years ago, we'd pick our 22 but then would be left filling the spots in the days leading up as people would be pulling out all the time. But this year, we started with the 2018 Team of the Year, before adding in form players to the squad, before reducing it to our final 23.
"We got that prestige back in the guernsey."
And the South Coast league will break new ground on Saturday when the inaugural women's team runs out against the Hunter-Central Coast at Newcastle.
It comes after the South Coast women's competition was established last year, won by Bomaderry.
The Tigers were rewarded with six players in the team, while Wollongong Lions and Bulldogs have five each.
First bounce is at 3pm, before the men's game at 5pm.
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