BATHURST Giants coach Mark Kennedy has described this Saturday's AFL Central West clash against Bathurst Bushrangers Rebels as a "litmus test" for his collection of new recruits.
The question is whether the result comes back orange or teal.
Giants are keen to hit the George Park 1 turf against after sitting out the opening round's play with the bye.
This will be an exciting season for the Giants as they look to repeat their finals appearance from last year and build upon the fast-paced game which almost took them to the big dance.
Giants get a tough welcome to the new season as they face an Rebels team coming off the back of a gritty win over a determined Dubbo Demons outfit.
Several senior members have departed the Giants but there's a strong core across the middle of the park ready to lead the way in 2019.
"They're busting out their boots to get back on the paddock," Kennedy said.
"We've had a core group of players training before Christmas to get their fitness up, and that should hold them in good stead. A lot of those guys are our midfielders.
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"We lost Nath Belbin to the Central Coast, and he's playing great football up there, while Franky Bright's gone back to Cowra and is doing a good job leading those young blokes around the paddock."
Giants not only qualified for the first finals series last season, they also wrote the first finals win into their history books.
It came against the Bushrangers Outlaws in the minor semi-final.
Naturally there's been chopping and changing to the lineups of both clubs since that game but opening a season against the Bushrangers men has got the Giants all the more excited for the year to come.
There's a share of players without a shred of Australian rules experience in the 2019 Giants lineup but Kennedy said there's no shortage of enthusiasm among them.
"I'm not going to change much from last year because it seemed to work for us. We've added a few new recruits over the course of the off-season and we're going to play them in that first game just to get them involved," he said.
"We're using this game as a litmus test to see where they fit in the team. A few of our regulars are away this week so it's a good chance to get the new players on the paddock and to give them a run.
"I'm not putting any expectations on my players for this weekend. It's about getting them out there and seeing how they go. Win, lose or draw, this game is more valuable for us to embed new players into the team."
Match starts 2.30pm.
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