THE Jacaranda Hotel Grafton Tigers start their premiership defence today when they take on the Sawtell Saints at Ellem Oval in round one of the North Coast AFL competition.
For the Tigers, it will be a memorable occasion, as they will be presented with their North Coast AFL Premiership flag by AFL legend John Rantell and Mayor Richie Williamson before the start of the seniors clash at 2.30pm.
Although Grafton was able to account for the Saints in all three of their matches last year, the Tigers are expecting a much different Sawtell to take the park in their senior clash.
The Saints have been bolstered by the acquisition of several former Nambucca Lions players and have recruited strongly in the off season, but in saying that the Tigers have also had a solid build-up to today.
Grafton has been able to retain a majority of its premiership-winning side from 2011 and have new players coming on board. Lee Anderson, John Chapple, and brothers Ben and Chris Holder will be making their debuts for the Tigers.
Former players Scott Onus and Carl Boehme will also be joining the Tigers this year.
Entry is free to Ellem Oval for the match, with bar and canteen facilities available at the ground. Juniors play at noon, with reserves set for 1pm and the seniors to start at 2.30pm.
Tomorrow the emphasis switches to the Junior Tigers.
The under-11s will be a challenge for a number of the kids when they take the field for the first time.
The under-13s will be more experienced, with a number of boys who are in their third season.
The 2012 coaches have done a fantastic job getting the kids ready for the upcoming season.
There has been a lot of interest in some players who wish to play in the under-15 competition but due to the lack of numbers those kids have signed with the Lower Clarence Eagles to help strengthen their side.
Every one is invited to come along and support the club today, with the junior exhibition match starting at noon.
Games will start with under-13 at 8.45am, under-11 at 10am followed by a game between North Coffs Roos and Coffs Swans under-15 sides.
Dan Zacek (c)