The Deniliquin Drovers will kick off their 2020 Southern Inland Rugby Union second grade season with a home game at Rotary Park on Saturday, July 25.
It was announced on Monday evening that the Drovers will host Tumut in round one of the seven round fixture.
Each team will play an opponent once, with one bye included during the season, followed by a three week finals series.
The 2020 season will culminate with a grand final on Saturday, September 26, with a venue yet to be announced.
Drovers president Paul Marshall said the club is ‘‘itching’’ to get out there and play.
‘‘It’s absolutely exciting the draw has been released,’’ he said.
‘‘We know what to expect on the field in regards to where we’re playing and when, which gives that extra motivation to the playing squad.
‘‘With our club hosting a game in round one, we are putting together a plan for the return of rugby.
‘‘We’re looking through Rugby Australia and Sport New South Wales guidelines around the requirements needed to ensure the safety of players, officials and supporters.
‘‘We had already been planning to have resources for this before we found out we were hosting round one.’’
The Drovers will compete against Albury Steamers, CSU Reddies, Leeton Phantoms, Tumut Bulls, Wagga City and Wagga Waratahs in the seven team competition.
Deni’s draw sees them have three home games and three away games, with the local team having a bye in the final round.
‘‘Our guys would be disappointed if they had to wait longer or have to have a week off early in the season,’’ Marshall said.
‘‘Having a week off before finals is also ideal, so we’re pretty happy with the draw.
‘‘Albury and Leeton are in the same boat as us in the sense that they also aren’t fielding a first grade side.
‘‘It should be a good introduction to second grade, where we will be playing against committed rugby players each week.
‘‘It’s also been a while since we’ve played against Leeton, with us being in third grade and the Phantoms not fielding a third grade side since 2015, so it will be good to come up against them again.’’
The Drovers are also now able to prepare for the year with full contact training restrictions being lifted this week.
Marshall said the players have been hard at work on the training track, building up their fitness and skills over the past month.
‘‘The lifting of contact training restrictions means we can now engage in drills involving the scrum and mauls,’’ he said.
‘‘We plan to continue to train three times a week on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday until the season starts.
‘‘We’ve also been thrilled with the turnout of players on the training track, with about 20 players consistently at our training sessions.
‘‘We’re looking forward to getting back out there and representing the town in senior sporting ranks, so hopefully we can do everyone proud.’’
The Drovers’ draw for the 2020 SIRU second grade season is as follows:
Round one, July 25 – Deni v Tumut at Deni.
Round two, August 1 – Albury v Deni at Albury.
Round three, August 8 – Deni v Leeton at Deni.
Round four, August 15 – Deni v Wagga City at Deni.
Round five, August 22 – CSU v Deni at Wagga.
Round six, August 29 – Wagga Waratahs v Deni at Wagga.
Round seven, September 5 – bye.