GISBORNE coach Rod Sharp is no fool.
The multiple premiership player with the Dogs is not listening to any talk about arch-rival Golden Square being in decline.
Square has snuck over the line against South Bendigo and Kangaroo Flat in the past two weeks and has lost star on-baller Simon Rosa for eight weeks because of a broken hand.
Despite Gisborne having its own injury concerns, everything points to the home side making it four wins on the trot when the two clubs meet on Anzac Day.
Sharp is not so sure.
“There’s no way we can afford to have five players have an average day of footy and expect to beat a side like Golden Square,’’ Sharp said.
“When you have a culture and history like Golden Square does, the new faces that come into the side just seem to fill the roles that are required.
“Yes, Golden Square is missing some key players, but the way they play doesn’t.
“I’m expecting another great game of footy and we’ll need to be at our best to win.”
Gisborne was without six of its best 10 players in recent wins over Maryborough and Kyneton.
Teenagers Isaac Trickey, Shannon Greetham, Riley Paterson, Hayden Doricic and Liam Rodgers have stepped up to the plate.
“We’re 12 months away from where I want us to be, but in saying that the kids we’ve played in senior footy this year have done a great job,’’ Sharp said.
“There’s a lot of burden on the young guys and the big question is can they sustain it?
“Once we get a few senior players back we’ll have a better balance between experience and youth.
“It’s an exciting time for the club to see where these kids can take us.”
Key players Tom May and Scott Walsh make their return to footy through the reserves on Friday.
In Gisborne, the Anzac Day game is being treated like a final.
The club has promoted the match heavily and, with no other country football being played in the region, a huge crowd is expected to pack into Gardiner Reserve.
“This is our biggest home game of the year,’’ Sharp said.
“To have a stand-alone game against our great rival is fantastic for the club."