After winning the coveted AFL Sydney Platinum Division Grand Final last season, premiership-winning Penrith Rams coach Kevin Kirk said his side have no problem transitioning from being the hunters to the hunted this season.
Following a seven-year drought, the Rams finally won their first top grade title last September with a 58-41 win over crosstown rivals the Western Magic.
Speaking with the Weekender ahead of this Saturday’s opening round clash against the Magic at Greygums Oval, Kirk said he’s “quite comfortable” being the team to beat each week.
“There is a bit of a difference from being the hunter to the hunted but we are quite happy being in that spot,” he said.
“Sides will definitely be aiming to topple us but we are comfortable with that scenario. We aren’t intimidated or worried about that at all.”
Unfortunately for the Rams they’ve lost a few members from last season’s premiership-winning team to retirement and a mid-season European holiday.
Grand Final hero Mitch Stevens, who scored three goals in the decider, will also be missing to start the season due to shoulder surgery.
Despite the various setbacks, Kirk is confident his side will have the hunger and determination to be strong again this season.
“What we did last year is last year and it doesn’t count for anything come Round 1,” he said.
“It’s a new season for us and we need to re-establish ourselves again with some new players. Anytime we go out as a club to play some footy, we aim to win it.”
This Saturday’s match against last season’s runners-up is shaping up to be an absolute blockbuster, with Kirk expecting the Western Magic to be more than fired up.
“They’d be fairly keen to seek some revenge,” he said.
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 a decade.