Orange Tigers are determined to come off their three-week break with a bang as they resume their so-far successful AFL Central West season.
The club had a bye three weeks ago, followed by a competition-wide bye on June 2 and the long weekend seven days later, meaning by the time the Tigers run onto the park on Saturday it will have been 27 days since they graced South Dubbo Oval in their last appearance.
A mid-season break would trouble most clubs, let alone the Tigers who have history of coming off worse than normally after breaks according to coach Dale Hunter.
"We're notoriously slow starters after the byes," he said.
Those kids have performed at the level and we can work towards and hopefully give a young team some experience in finals.Tigers' coach Dale Hunter
"Even with a smaller sample size, with the one game after Easter this year and going off last year's record, but hopefully with a decent list turnover we might have eliminated some of the issue.
He's hoping some of the side's new youthful endeavour helps the Tigers lift post-bye, but while Parkes are on the bottom of the ladder Hunter didn't say they would be easybeats.
The fact there's only been one side Hunter's men have been unable to topple came as an unexpected boon to his 2019 coaching tenure, and he said he would have taken coming into the mid-season break having only dropped one of six games.
"I don't want to set expectations but we need to apply ourselves to ensure we can hold onto a top two spot and ensure that double chance in finals should it come to that," he said.
"We haven't been talking internally about it but we do need to make sure we keep playing well."
Hunter said the pre-season goals for the club - simply ensuring the side played its heart out each game and ensuring youngsters had good minutes on the field - hadn't changed with unexpected success.
We're notoriously slow starters after the byes.Tigers' coach Dale Hunter
"The goal was at the start of the season to blood some youngsters and we've managed to do that, we've had five kids from under-17s have that opportunity to play and we're rebuilding after coming out of a successful era," he said.
"Those kids have performed at the level and we can work towards and hopefully give a young team some experience in finals."
The Tigers will unveil another debutant for season 2019, but unlike most of the Tigers' new players he won't be from junior ranks.
Casey Grice began training with the club during the break, and the big-bodied utility has shown plenty of good skills on greasy tracks in Orange the past week and a half.
Hunter said Grice, who's played at "a reasonable level" in his native Adelaide and also has a background in beach volleyball, would find a home in the Tigers' line-up over the coming weeks.
He said he'd likely start as a key forward this week against Parkes, with the potential to deploy him in the role Lucas Kelly played in 2018 as a big-bodied midfielder who can pinch-hit in the ruck.
The Tigers will be without midfield revelation Angus Henderson, who's away, as well as Sandun Welisara after he moved to Perth, but Hunter said otherwise the Tigers had a full list to pick from.
The Tigers take on Orange at Waratahs from 2.30pm on Saturday.
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