IT'S a daunting season opener, but Kangaroo Flat coach Jayden Cowling says his side has embraced the challenge of a first round clash against reigning premier Sandhurst.
And why not? The Roos were one of the few teams to seriously challenge the Dragons during a dominant 2018 campaign.
The Roos managed a three-goal loss and a draw against the back-to-back premiers, before a hard-fought 12-goal preliminary final loss.
"It's a tough start, but we are just pumped to get out there knowing that we matched them last year," Cowling said.
"We always seem to get close to Sandhurst with our match-ups throughout the court, especially in the midcourt where Milly Wicks and Chelsea Sartori match up really well with Meg Williams.
"They obviously have Bri Dalrymple-Monro now and not Brooke Bolton. Bri is a very classy player and extremely fit and speedy.
"Chelsea will most likely match up on her. They've always had good battles in the past, which will be real exciting."
A pre-season of intense competition for the starting shooting roles has culminated with Annie Spear and Julia Clarke being named for the clash against the Dragons.
The Roos will have plenty of options though with Adrienne Murphy and Brooke Lawry, who will play in the A-reserve game, filling roles on the bench.
"Annie and Julia have had an amazing pre-season and been incredibly hard-working," Cowling said.
"They definitely deserve their spots.
"There's plenty of options, definitely no shortage of goalers to start the season."
The Roos are expected to be without leading defender Ingrid Hopkins for the season opener through injury.
Win, lose or draw, Cowling knows the result against the league's powerhouse will not define the Roos' season, but give them a good indication of where improvement will be needed.
For Sandhurst, the loss of dual premiership centre Brooke Bolton and goal attack Leah Sartori, will be offset by the gain of Dalrymple-Monro and return of joint playing coach Heather Oliver.
The Dragons will be chasing a third consecutive premiership, a feat they managed in 2005-07.
Quizzed in the lead-up to the season, Oliver indicated the chance to make history would play no part in how the team approached the season.
"It would certainly be nice, but like last year and the year before, while it's the main goal, we don't go in even thinking the premiership is going to be ours," she said.
"We know this is going to be the hardest year for us because we have every team coming for us and every team has improved immensely.
"We have a slightly new group and you never know how the dynamics might change, but we just need to keep working hard."
In other games, it will be a tough introduction to A-grade coaching for Ash Barbetti, with her Strathfieldsaye to clash with Eaglehawk, which has a new joint coach of its own in Allira Holmes, while expected improvers South Bendigo hosts Maryborough at the Queen Elizabeth Oval.
Kyneton makes its return to A-grade under lights at the showgrounds against Golden Square, while Gisborne has the opening round bye.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.