Tigers take on Magpies
IT is being billed as city v country, bush footy v club footy, BRL v NDRL — Avondale Tigers v Easts Magpies.
Despite being a simple pre-season run-around, both camps will charge on to Avondale’s home turf with a point to prove.
The Northern Districts competition is known for its crash and bang approach, while the Bundaberg Rugby League is played at a faster pace and with more subtlety.
The two styles will clash head-on this Saturday.
A game between teams from the two competitions has not been held in the past five years, and Tigers halfback Andy Filo is adamant his young, resurgent team can topple the more-fancied Magpies.
“We finished strongly last season, only losing the grand final by four points,” Filo said.
“And we’ve started this season in similar fashion, training well with a full squad since Christmas.”
Filo was well aware of what they were up against.
“We have skilful guys in the competition ... but it’s all about big hits and big tackles,” he said with a smile.
Magpies’ coach Josh Garden was not taking his bush footy rivals lightly.
“They’re a good side, with a good structure and it should be a good challenge for our boys early in the year,” Garden said.
Easts stars Matt Tanner and his co-captain AJ Evans will sit out.
“We’ll be shuffling around, experimenting with a few positions ahead of the season,” Garden said.
The game was borne out of a chat between Easts assistant coach Kel Nagas and Avondale vice-president Brian Groves.
“We’ve known Grovesy for a long time and thought it was a great idea,” Garden said.
Brian Groves, the heart of Avondale’s grand final charge last year, has said he would not play a role on the field this year.
“I’m 35. I’m getting too old for this,” Groves said.