South Hobart begin their defence of the Steve Hudson Cup on Sunday when they tackle Riverside Olympic in a Group A match on Ground 1 at Birch Avenue at 3pm in Launceston.
“We will be entering the Cup under-done as I have been overseas the last few weeks, so this Sunday will be our first practice game for the year,” said Riverside coach, Troy Scott.
“Playing South Hobart first up and then Northern Rangers will give us a guide as to what we need to work on in order to challenge for the title.
“Due to holidays and cricket, we will be missing four or five players, but this gives an opportunity to Oliver Edmondson, Nick Lanua Atkinson and Nick Meldrum to mention a few that will get an opportunity this week, with some other players coming up from our under-18 team of last season over the next couple of weeks.
“The way we play will be more important than the result.”
South Hobart will introduce newcomers Luke Huigsloot and Jon Foley-Donohue, while Mark Moncur is likely to be in goal as Sam Kruijver is still not ready to resume after suffering concussion in the match against South Melbourne Hellas.
The other Group A game is between Northern Rangers and Launceston City on Ground 2 at 2.30pm.
“We’ve only been training for four weeks, so Sunday’s game comes very early in our preparation,” said Rangers coach, Adam Whitemore.
“Like last season, our aim is to build through the Hudson Cup, peaking for round 1 of the league.
“This approach does mean that at this stage we are likely to be well behind some of our opponents in physical preparation and sharpness, and in all likelihood we won’t be at anything like our best for another month.
“Again, like last season, winning the league is our primary aim. Our focus for Sunday will be on getting players familiar, and comfortable tactically and, of course, building match fitness.
“Line-up wise, we will rest, or use sparingly, many of last season’s key players who physically aren’t ready to be doing too much, namely Andrew Nicholson, Des Schipper, Sam Luck and Todd Hingston.
"New recruits, such as Mark Ambrose, will be slowly eased in in later rounds, along with a few players already carrying injuries.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how City play as I was very impressed with the style in which Lino had his young reserve side playing last season.”
City suffered a heavy defeat against Tilford Zebras in a practice match in Hobart recently, but Sciulli said that was only a scratch side and not the one that would play in competition this season.
In Group B matches on Sunday, Launceston United will face Prospect Knights on Ground 1 at 11am, while Ulverstone take on Olympia Warriors on the same pitch at 1pm.
Launceston United lost 4-1 to South Hobart last weekend in a practice match and they didn’t look too bad a side.
“It will be a similar side to take to the park on Sunday,” said Launceston coach, Mark Egan.
“The lads worked well together as a unit against South Hobart and continuity is what I am looking for from the senior squad this season.
“The club has added depth to the playing list and brought in fresh faces, some of whom are not quite ready yet, but over the course of the Hudson Cup I will endeavour to get these lads on the park.
“As with every club, there have been players who have other commitments, such as cricket, touch football and so on.
“Launceston United is no different and, as these players wind one season down, they will quickly move into another.
“We will be looking to use the Hudson Cup as a series of practice games. Where have I heard that one before? We’ll be trying different players in different positions and difficult conditions.
“I hope it’s not too hot on the weekend for all concerned.
“Our Under-18s will have their first run of the season and their coach, Richard Jones, will be looking for a solid performance from his players, who finished third on the table in last year’s ‘home and away’ season.”
Prospect Knights will be trying a few youngsters in this match.
“We are looking to put our best available eleven on the park to start with,” said Knights coach, Dane Hudson.
“We have included five under-18 players with a view to senior selection as the season unfolds.
“We, as others, have some players unavailable, but all have committed to the club for 2011.
“Launceston, I think, may have a smattering of more senior players in their ranks this season, which can only help the young players’ development.
"We are looking forward to a win straight up.”
Ulverstone against Olympia Warriors presents a student versus master encounter.
Ulverstone’s new coach, Nick Owen, was in junior representative sides coached by Olympia’s Chris Hey.
Olympia will undoubtedly use this tournament as preparation for this year’s league competition and Hey will be looking to fine-tune his line-up for what could be a difficult season.