AFTER winning the division one AFL South Coast title in 2018, the Bomaderry Tigers took a step forward under new coach Matthew Barnes last season.
The Tigers won three of their final four matches to qualify for the men's premier division semi-finals - where they lost to eventual runners-up Figtree.
But with what some would label two pre-seasons (due to COVID-19) under their belts in 2020, the black and golds are determined to reach even greater heights this year.
"We are absolutely champing at the bit to start the season," Barnes, who is in his second year as the club's head coach, said.
"We got underway in November last year, so it's been the longest pre-season in history.
"The beauty for us is we've just kept improving our squad each week.
"I believe we've improved significantly on where we were at the start of last season."
Their first chance to prove that improvement comes on Saturday when they host 2018 premiers Kiama - a club where Barnes formerly coached at - at the Nowra Showground.
"They [Kiama] are a totally different line up to when I was involved at the club but I'm sure they'll still be very well drilled and fit," he said.
"We will go in as underdogs but hopefully we'll find a way to finish the day on top.
"I know the game will be won in the midfield and I have confidence in the boys we have in there to get the job done."
Barnes' senior squads on Saturday will feature a host of new faces, including William and Tom Ozolins, Tom Nichols, Max Hughes, Josh Dexter, Nathan Darvill, Ash Bilsborough, Alex Whitehill and James Phillips - as well as welcoming Blake Munilla and Andrew Lee back to the club.
"I'm hoping they [new recruits] will bring some added physicality and hardness around the ball," the 42-year-old coach said.
"There's plenty of size and strong footy brains among them, so I'll be looking to see us move the footy more fluently and hit more targets more often."
With the 2020 season only containing 10 rounds before finals, Barnes knows it's more crucial than ever to get off to a strong start from the opening bounce.
"The shortened season and the potential of games being lost at some stage make every win vital," he said.
"There's not much opportunity this season to recoup losses.
"Whatever happens on Saturday, we will have given 100 per cent and we'll do the same next week and every week following that."
This premier men's fixture, at 2.10pm, will be the last of three matches at the Nowra Showground on Saturday.
The day will start with Jeremy Owen's division one men's side taking on the Power from 10.40am, before Geoff Gibbs' women's side battle Kiama from 12.30pm.