Tigers growl and show their claws as rivals line up to take premiership

ORANGE Tigers captain Tim Barry has one very blunt message for the rest of the Central West  AFL sides looking to knock the black and golds of their premiership perch in 2014.

“Bring it on,” Barry fired.

“I like a challenge.”

The defending premiers travel to Cowra on Saturday to kick start the 2014 season against the Blues and with the success of last season’s break-through grand final win over Bathurst, the heat will now be on the Tigers to do it all again.

So far, the pre-season signs suggest Orange can deliver.

Training at Tigerland throughout summer has been well attended, the recruitment of the club first class and, as unveiled at Country Club Oval on Tuesday night, the black and golds’ leadership group is proud and experienced.

With vice-captain Michael Rothnie as well as Corey McKenzie and Dale Hunter in support, Barry believes the club’s ability to remain focused on its own preparation, rather than that of their opposition, will see the Tigers roar towards back-to-back flags.

“I think probably at the back-end of last year we stopped worrying about what other sides were going to be doing and just concentrated on us. And that’s where the belief came from,” Barry said.

“We knew we could win every game we played. We’ve got the process right.”

Both McKenzie and Hunter are old stagers at the Tigers club.

The inclusion of the vastly experienced duo alongside Barry in the leadership group isn’t a shock.

Rothnie, however, is somewhat of a surprise.

Viewed as a future captain of the club by those in the know, Rothnie’s appointment as Barry’s deputy is a sign of a changing of the guard at Tigerland.

“Michael has only played two years of first grade football but his on field stuff has especially been fantastic,” Tigers coach Nathan Pearce said.

“There’s the possibility Michael could be a future captain of the Tigers, so it’s about time we got him in there. With the quality of Tim Barry there to help guide him, the time is right.”

Barry had one piece of advice for Rothnie.

“The biggest thing for Michael is to realise his footy is separate from his leadership,” Barry said.

“Even when he is down on the field, his leadership still has the potential to help the team succeed. We’ve got qualities leaders at the club in Macca (McKenzie) and Croc (Hunter), and Michael will certainly add to that this season.”

The 2014 CWAFL season kicks off on Saturday.

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