Coolamon's Kindra Park will host Jake Barrett's return to the Riverina on Friday when the Hoppers take on Farrer League club East Wagga-Kooringal in a high profile pre-season fixture.
Barrett, who's recruitment by Coolamon made him the first player in 20 years to go straight from AFL to the Riverina League, can't wait to get out on the ground after what feels like the longest pre-season.
"Really excited, it should be good," Barrett said.
"Usually by now I've had a few games so I'm definitely itching to get out there. Usually I'd be into it by now, playing JLT games, so it's obviously a bit later but I'm definitely keen to get into it."
With good numbers at training, the former Brisbane Lions and GWS Giants midfielder has been thrilled by the welcome the town and the club have given him and is keen to begin to repay that faith.
"It's been unreal. I can't believe how many blokes keep getting there, we've had 40 to 50 most nights and with consistent numbers it makes it easy for drills and what not," Barrett said.
"Our coaches Connor (Neyland) and Jamie (Maddox) said the vibe around the club is the best it's been in a few years, everyone's up and about and the ground looking the way it is - they've done a great job - there's a bit happening, so it's good."
With a bye first up, Coolamon's season won't kick off for six weeks, hosting a local derby against Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong on the last weekend in April.
Barrett said they'll be far from full strength against the Hawks this week but as a senior figure he's happy to get the action underway.
"The coaches have been good," he said. "They've just said when you want to have your input, don't be afraid to speak up. And I've helped the younger guys with a bit of development and skills work here and there.
"(Friday night's) just a trial game so I'll just go out there and play my game but the focus is on doing what we've been working on at training, and just get a bit of run in the boys legs," he said.
He's been impressed by what he's seen of some of their emerging talent from the under 17s and hopes to play a part in their improvement this year.
Meanwhile, new Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes coach Jeremy Rowe is similarly excited for his first game in charge.
The Goannas take on North Wagga after the Farrer League club was stung by a Wagga Tigers thrashing last week.
"We expect them to be an improved version of whatever happened last week," Rowe said
"Who knows what is going to happen in trials. They are funny things.
"We're going in with a side that is pretty strong considering you always seem to have a whole host of guys out when you play pre-season games."
Captain Ryan Price and last year's best and fairest runner-up George Kendall are unavailable.
"Outside of those two we've only got a couple of guys who won't be playing. We take in a pretty strong squad."