A new era will begin for Northern Districts on Saturday when the Tigers take to Hollymount Park for the first time this year.
The clash with two-time reigning AFL South Coast champions Figtree will mark Norths' first since the retirement of long-time mentor Leigh Forsyth, with Mick Montague and Glenn Haase taking over as co-coaches.
The duo both have a background in Riverina footy, but have been involved with the Tigers for several years.
"I've been at the club for the last five years, and Glenn has been around the club for at least 10 years. And I guess we're in a unique role because I don't know many clubs that have co-coaches before, but we're doing it because we're both time poor with work and family commitments," Montague said with a laugh.
"It's an interesting role, but one that we're really enjoying. And it's obviously big boots to fill with 'Lethal' retiring, but he's left the club in a good spot and hopefully we can develop from there."
The Tigers have been renowned for their investment in youth in recent years, and that won't change in 2023, with a number of juniors set to be elevated.
Mitch Osadczuk, Jimmy Watson, Luke Essenstam and Nick Carter have also returned to their junior club, while their other recruits include ex-Leeton talents Ryan Dunn and Angus Boulton, and Canberra pair Will Beaumont and James Bolton.
Norths have also retained a chunk of their 2022 squad, led by the likes of Brendan Davis and Owen Kocyan, who have been named co-captains this year.
After reaching last year's preliminary final last year, the Tigers will hope to go one better this season, but Montague isn't putting any pressure on the young group.
"We really want to focus on consistency this year and trying to play four quarters of footy because we know, having a young side, there's going to be games where we might not be switched on," Montague said.
"So that's probably our main focus this year, having a consistent brand of footy and trying to play the way we want to play."
The Men's Premier Division will return this Saturday with three games across the region. Shellharbour will tackle last year's grand finalists the Bulldogs at Myimbarr Park and Wollongong Lions will meet Kiama at North Dalton Park in the other matches.
After a long pre-season, Montague said his players were thrilled to finally get back on the field.
"Last year we had that wet weather where we didn't get to train on Hollymount for ages. We might have even been playing footy before we actually got to train at Holllymount," he said.
"Touch wood, we're going to have no wet weather this year."
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