The first step towards what the Dubbo Rhinos hope is a vastly improved season will be taken on Saturday.
New coach Doug Sandy is feeling "very, very optimistic" about the upcoming season as his side looks to climb the New Holland Agriculture Cup ladder following back-to-back wooden spoons in the past two years.
The Rhinos step-up their preparations for the 2021 campaign on Saturday when they take on the Griffith Blacks in a trial match at Barden Park.
Two matches will be played, with close to what Sandry hopes is his first grade side playing in the main game.
"The signs are positive so hopefully we can put the structure we've worked on into practice, that's all I'm after," Sandry said.
"But in saying that, it would be nice to have a victory. A victory can change your whole attitude and can be a catalyst for a good season."
While admitting a few more players to boost depth in second grade would be nice, coach Sandry said pre-season up to this point has been positive.
A number of new players at the club have helped create a buzz for the season ahead and some of those will be in action on Saturday alongside plenty of Rhinos regulars.
The Griffith side is one considering a "developing club" and was recommended to Sandry by former Rhino and current Riverina-based referee Brendon Reynolds.
"I'm pretty positive it will be a good hit-out," Sandry said.
"We should have three-quarters of the first grade team. There's still a couple to come back in and there's still some positions up for grabs.
"A lot of the players have impressed me. Kel Rumble has come across and he's some who's reliable and flexible.
"He can play in the centres or at flanker and we're working on him as a lineout jumper, too. He's got a real rugby sense and that help.
"And we've picked up a handy one in Nash Forgione from Geurie. He can play 10 or 12. I coached him for four years at Central West (juniors) and he's a real organiser of the backline.
"He captained Geurie for the past three or four years so that's a real bonus."
Brett Austin and James Dodd, two players who have bounced between grades and helped where needed in recent times, are also locked in to the top side this season and will form the front-row on Saturday alongside hooker Matt Graham.
Graham previously played prop but has taken over as hooker and captain in the injury-forced absence of Matt Neill this year.
"The team has bonded really, really well," Sandry said.
"I've been impressed and I'm very, very optimistic we'll have a pretty good year but it all starts this weekend."
Kick-off in Saturday's first grade game is 2.30pm at Barden Park.
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