"They'll be a force to be reckoned with."
That was the verdict of Fusion Heat captain Tash Robinson after her dominant team showed the strength of their new recruits in their 49 - 24 first round victory of the A-grade debutantes the Narromine Hawks.
Now Robinson's words look prophetic, with her Heat side looking to best the Hawks again in the grand final after the Hawks upset the Fusion Fire last time out to book a place in the decider after earlier eliminating the Inspire Rebels.
"The biggest thing that I saw in the Hawks at the start of the season is their tenacity; they're a great, quality team and they're very defensive and they're quick in attack, which is very similar to our game," Robinson said.
"I think it was a mentality thing for them at the start of the season, they didn't really think they belonged in A-grade, they thought they were more suited to reserve, but now they've grown into their own a bit and they know they belong."
"At the back end of the season, they've come from fourth to now being in the grand final, and I think it makes for an even better game."
While Robinson sees some of her Heat team's style in the Hawks, the Fusion side are still considered rightful favourites, with Robinson looking to add a third-straight premiership to the Fusion Heat trophy cabinet, having outlined the premiership hat-trick as an objective at the start of the season.
"I think it's something that's different for all of us personally; we all have different reasons why it's important to us, but I think it's a really cool thing to be a part of; to win three premierships in a row, it doesn't come along very often, it doesn't happen all the time, it's a good reward for our hard work."
The Hawks will also have to contend with a Heat side that is not only motivated, but in their season best form, with a number of players coming back from injury and the club's newest recruits having found their place in the squad.
"We're feeling really good, we've recovered from all our injuries and we're going in with a full team," Robinson said.
"I think most people will expect us to start with Michelle Regan and have her in the whole game as our shooter, but I genuinely think that Georgie Conway and Payton Harris have earned a spot in that goal circle, whether that's starting the game, or they move into it later, that's something we'll figure out, but they've really shown their strength in those positions through this season."
Robinson also expects her girls to mimic their recent success against the Fusion Fire, denying their opponents a chance to build an early lead and maintaining early possession of the ball.
"We absolutely want to start fast again this time," Robinson said.
"We want to come out as strong and as confident as we possibly can, what we've found is the slower we start, the harder we have to work across the whole game."
"The quicker we get in, and get our flow going and the sooner we start to build, the better the game will be."