The first AFL game of the season will be played today at BITS Oval.
The first AFL game of the season will be played today at BITS Oval. Mike Richards GLA150416FAFL

Rivals’ pride at stake

THE question of which team has had the best pre-season will come to a head when BITS Saints and Gladstone Mudcrabs face off to mark round one of the AFL Capricornia season.

The cross-town rivals clash from 2.15pm Saturday at BITS Oval in what promises to be an intriguing affair, with the Muddies wanting to prove themselves after a lean 2015.

BITS has the haunting memory of a whitewash grand final last year in which Yeppoon Swans trounced it by 107 points.

"It's not looking too bad, and we will use our game plan that we have worked on during the pre-season today," BITS co-captain Jordan Lockett said.

VIDEO: The captains have their say on the big clash

It has been an arduous past six months in which a core group of players started pre-season training.

"Some of us started in mid-November," centre halfback Lockett said.

BITS coach Damien Lyon said the club would focus on youth development, and had plenty of it, with the likes of Ben Dempsey.

Three players will make their debuts today.

"Sam Ianson is a ruckman-forward, and is from the Gold Coast and played football at the Broadbeach Cats, but hasn't played for five years," Lyon said.

"He moves quite well and has a strong physical presence."

The others are ex-Mayne junior and half forward-midfielder Ben Fletcher, who is also a professional golfer.

"Gradey Gill's back after a couple of years off, and he is a tall, versatile player with pace and a lovely kick," Lyon said.

"He can play back forward in the ruck or on the wing."

Jake Mostert is the other Saints skipper.

The Mudcrabs have three captains in Stephen Eilola, Daniel Clay and Zac Jahn.

Eilola hopes the BITS will field a full-strength side, and that's the way he wants it.

"Hopefully they can test us with their full ability, and we are keen for a good start to the year," rugby league convert Eilola said.

The skipper has been at the Muddies since under-15s.

"My dad Darryl grew up with AFL in Victoria, and he has been a big influence of me switching codes ... he's also an assistant coach with the Mudcrabs," Eilola said.

One of the key match-ups will be Lockett against Gladstone Mudcrabs centre half forward Jahn.

Friendships are put aside once the siren sounds this afternoon.

Juniors kick off from 8.30am and reserves at 12.30pm, with post match awards and meals available.

AFL CAPRICORNIA ROUND ONE

BITS Saints v Gladstone Mudcrabs 2.15pm at BITS Oval

Panthers v Yeppoon 2.15pm at Rockhampton Cricket Ground

Glenmore v Rockhampton Brothers 2.15pm at Stenlake Park



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