Related: Baird's blue and gold pride
Outer East coach Nick Rutley is confident his side has the firepower to be more than just competitive with Bendigo in Saturday's AFL Victoria Community Championships clash at the QEO.
Saturday's game is Outer East's first appearance at this level.
The league is in its first season after the merger of the Yarra Ranges and South East leagues.
It is a three-tier competition involving 26 clubs, with its Premier Division consisting of Cranbourne, Woori Yallock, Olinda Ferny Creek, Wandin, Upwey Tecoma, Healesville, Narre Warren and Berwick.
Putting together an inter-league camapaign hasn't been easy for Rutley, particularly with four key players pulling out in the past week.
However, the Outer East did receive some good news on Thursday night with Cranbourne duo Michael Wenn and Anthony Vella, who were expected to play in the VFL with Port Melbourne and Casey respectively, cleared to make the trip to Bendigo.
Wenn is a quality ruckman. who ironically played a game in the BFNL earlier this year on a match permit with Castlemaine.
"Even though we have a lot of run and carry types our strength will be in our defensive 50, but I'm not sure how much defence really gets played in these games,'' Rutley said on Friday.
"Our notable absentees are from our midfield and forward line...but in saying that we have a good spread of talent.
"We're bringing up a healthy squad who will be very competitive and we're really looking forward to playing some good footy."
Aside from Wenn and Vella, other players to watch for Outer East include classy small forward Harrison Money, who is the league-leading goalkicker, and former West Coast Eagle Ashley Smith.
Smith played 45 games at AFL level between 2010 and 2014.
Rutley said the open spaces of the QEO would suit his side.
"The Yarra Valley competition was your Ballarat style of footy - that contested, one-on-one footy with big forwards that kik goals,'' Rutley said.
"The South East was a different beast and probably more like your Bendigo style of footy where the ball moves around quickly and there's plenty of run.
"So this year we're bringing the two styles together."
Rutley has done plenty of homework on Saturday's opponents and he has a healthy respect for Bendigo's talent pool - particularly through the middle of the ground.
"We've had a good look at the Hampden versus Bendigo game last year and through (Darryl) Wilson coaching flags at Strathfieldsaye we watched a few of those games to see what style of footy they played,'' Rutley said.
"The Bendigo versus Hampden game was a good game of footy, but at the same time there's so many new players this year.
"We know about (Lachlan) Sharp, (Adam) Baird, (Sam) Heavyside and (Jack) Geary.
"We know who the key players are... we're not going to sit on them, but we'll certainly be aware of them."
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