A NEW-LOOK Exies side is ready to hit the ground running this season with a win over stablemates and notorious slow starters Diggers, according to captain Marc Tucker.
The addition of a few fresh faces – and the return of some old ones – has breathed new life into Exies over the off-season with
several of those players set for starts in tomorrow’s day-nighter at Exies No.1 Oval.
Tucker said his side was keen to atone for last season’s failure in finishing top of the first grade ladder, only to fall to the all-conquering Coro Cougars in the grand final.
“All the boys, I think they realised after last year we had the team to win it,” he said.
“But we didn’t perform at the end of the year. Our batting wasn’t up to scratch.
“Everyone’s keen to get cracking pretty quickly and get some wins under our belts.”
The losses of key men Theo Valeri, Tom Valeri and Rick Merz this season have been balanced by the addition of Albury spinner Adam Connell, Armidale all-rounder Dom Brown, Andy Arnold and Alastair Burge, who returns from two years in England.
The Exies attack will be spearheaded by paceman Chris Mansell, who left Griffith in the middle of last season – but has come back in arguably career-best shape, Tucker said.
“He’s lost about 15kg and he’s actually bowling really quick and looks really handy with the new ball,” he said. “He’s looking really fit and hopefully it pays off with a few wickets.”
Exies will start as favourites against a Diggers side with a new captain, Jarrod Cahill, who takes over from Nathan Smith.
“We’ve had a very low-key pre-season. We’ve only had two or three training runs to date - a lot of our guys play footy,” Diggers’ Glen Faganello said. “We’ll slowly get into the groove this year and build up. We’re always slow starters, but we always back ourselves to charge home into the finals.”