COROWA-Rutherglen swingman Luke Gestier believes the Roos can prove the doomsayers wrong and remain a finals force this season.
The Roos proved to be one of last year’s biggest surprise packets after climbing from ninth on the ladder to make the elimination final for the first time in five years.
But the departure of captain Jamie Seymour, Lachie McLarty, Mick Collins, Sean Kelly, Michael Kinsella, Jarrod Lane and a season-ending knee injury to Hayden Filliponi has many pundits writing the Roos off as a finals contender.
Gestier said talk was cheap.
“You don’t believe what you read and the proof will be in the pudding,” Gestier said.
“I firmly believe with our young group and the changes we have made to our game style we are definitely right in the mix for that fourth or fifth spot.”
Corowa-Rutherglen has been handed a tough early draw and play the other four finalists from last year in the opening month of the season.
Starting with Lavington today, the Roos then face raging flag favourite Albury, Wangaratta Rovers and Yarrawonga.
Gestier said the Roos were looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s a big test for our group but it will give as an accurate gauge of where we are,” he said.
“I don’t think it will hurt us at all.
“Lavington have been that No.3 side now for a fair while now but in saying that, they are definitely not unbeatable and we have had a really good pre-season, so will be going in with a lot of confidence.
“I also think we will be a lot more unpredictable this season.”
Lavington boast one of the tallest combinations in the league with Justin Koschitkze, Adam Prior, Andrew Dess, Adam Butler, Nick Meredith, Tom Yensch, Brant Dickson and James Saker set to stretch the undersized Roos.
Gestier said the Roos best chance of springing an upset would be to run the Panthers off their feet.
“Lavington are one of the tallest sides running around in the Ovens and Murray league and it’s probably been well documented that we lack a bit of height,” he said.
“But our speed is one of our biggest assets.
“Joe and Bill Hansen are super quick and Sam Carpenter and James Brain will add a lot of grunt in the middle.
“We will just look to play and exciting brand of football with slick ball movement the key to success.”
With injuries and departures, Corowa-Rutherglen has turned to youth with 16-year-old Jack Schilg among several youngsters to make his debut for the Roos today.
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