They may be starting the season a week later than their competitors, but Penrith Rams coach Kevin Kirk has vowed his side is ready to have one of their strongest seasons in years.
Following an opening round bye last weekend, the Rams will finally get their 2018 campaign underway when they take on the Holroyd Parramatta Goannas at Greygums Oval this Saturday afternoon.
On the back of a lengthy pre-season which began way back in November last year and included three trial wins, Kirk is confident his side has what it takes to challenge for a title in 2018.
“Our pre-season has been quite good this year, it’s probably the best we’ve prepared in the three years I’ve been there,” he said.
“We had a good run with the weather and good numbers at training. It’s by far the best preparation we’ve had in my time at the club.”
Bowing out in an Elimination Final last year, the Rams have kept the majority of their 2017 squad together with a couple of key additions.
Despite losing last year’s Best and Fairest winner Jake Pianta to 12 months in Canada, the club managed to recruit back 2016 Best and Fairest winner Brayden Wilson and 2016 leading goal scorer Phillip Aumann.
“We are excited to have both gentlemen back. They are not only good on the field but great club blokes, they are good to have around as well,” Kirk said.
“Unfortunately we also lost last year’s top goal scorer Mitchell Stevens in the first trial after he broke a couple of bones in his foot. He was coming off his best year of footy and will be missing for a bit of a stretch.”
With the Rams entered into a higher division this season called the AFL Sydney Platinum Division, the club will be hoping each of their new and existing stars will be firing on all cylinders.
“We’ve gone up in standard after AFL Sydney changed the structure,” Kirk said.
“Platinum Division is predominantly made up of teams from Division 1 last year. We were in Division 2 last year, so we’ve gone up in class but we’ve prepared well enough and aren’t intimidated.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for nearly a decade.