ORANGE City will know how they are shaping up for the Blowes Clothing Cup after their first round tomorrow.
The Lions will host defending premiers Parkes at Pride Park in what will be a tough opener for the home side.
Lions captain Josh Maley said playing Parkes first up had its benefits.
“We’ll find out straight away where we’re at,” Maley said.
Parkes will field a largely unchanged side to the one which claimed the 2011 premiership.
These two sides met in last year’s first round where Parkes showed their intentions for the season when they thumped the Lions 37-7.
“Last year they started very well and beat us in the first game. That was a bit of a surprise,” Maley said.
“This year we know what to expect and we won’t be taking them lightly. They’ve got a good forward pack and some big backs who are hard to contain.”
The loss was the beginning of a bad start for Orange City as they went on to lose their opening four matches.
Despite this they went on to finish the regular season in fifth and eventually finished third.
Maley said the Lions are determined to make sure they have a better start this season.
“It’s something we’ve worked on. We’ve really focused on the first rounds,” he said.
“We want to have a better start because we really put ourselves under pressure last year by losing our first four games. So any wins early on would be a much better start than last year.”
Last season the Lions’ forward pack was the side’s strength.
This year they’ll still be strong but expect the backs to be just as competitive.
“The core of our forward pack has been together for a while now,” Maley explained.
“Plus we’ve got a few players back who could add a bit more potency to our attack. We should be strong across the park.”
The Lions will benefit from the return of forward Dan Johnston, who last played for the Lions in their 2007 grand final loss.
Michael Sparks has returned from the Netherlands and will resume his playmaker role at flyhalf.
Maley added there was plenty of competition for positions with a number of players with first grade experience in second grade for the first round.
Saturday’s match at Pride Park will kick-off at 3.15pm.
ORANGE CITY: 1 Nathan Short, 2 Josh Tremain, 3 John Colgan, 4 Josh Maley (c), 5 Chris Barrett, 6 Mitch Pearce, 7 Duncan Young, 8 Dan Johnston, 9 Nick Quinn, 10 Michael Sparks, 11 Sam Powell, 12 To be named, 13 Ben Mills, 14 Sione ‘Junior’ Lafo’ou, 15 Anthony Salmon.
PARKES: 1 Peni Nayagadamu, 2 Karl Oliver, 3 Heamani Lavaka, 4 Charles Michell, 5 Toby Baigent, 6 Luke Freeman, 7 Ben Ryan, 8 Israel Symington, 9 Johnny Rathbone, 10 Adam Porter, 11 Matt Hunter, 12 Joe Nash, 13 Brad Sanders, 14 Chris Reynolds, 15 Cameron Standen.