First test for premiers in the Bundaberg Rugby League
LEAGUE: Past Brothers will be hoping two of their premiership stars from last year won't have the last laugh today.
The defending champions face rivals Western Suburbs in the opening round of the Bundaberg Rugby League A-Grade competition at Salter Oval.
But they will have to do it without both Willie Nagas and Hayden Priestley, who have moved back to the Panthers after guiding the Brethren to the title last year.
"We've had a few retirements and a few blokes changing sides, including Nagas and Priestley,” Brothers coach Steve Plath said.
"We've got a few guys coming up from under-18 into full-time A-Grade that we hope will do well.”
The club has also signed up Ben Kuskey and Klint Beer from Gin Gin.
Kuskey joins his brother Brent who has retired from the game but will serve as an assistant.
Plath said, regardless of what side plays, they should know that the hard work begins now to win back-to-back titles.
"A new year is a new year, last year means nothing,” he said.
"We will concentrate on what we know to bring success.”
But Plath conceded Brothers face a tough test to be the best.
"Everyone has bought and recruited well,” he said.
"Isis and The Waves in particular will be tough to beat.”
Plath will be the main coach for the first time just like new Wests coach Corey Tanner.
Tanner said confidence was high ahead of another season.
"We haven't really lost anyone and got some players returning that are handy acquisitions,” Tanner said.
"Our forward depth has really improved this year.”
Tanner said the side had not played a trial this season so Brothers would be a benchmark for them.
"They will be a solid test, we'll try a few things to hopefully find the right balance for the season.”
The game starts at 4.45pm.