The return of ruckman Andrew Dickins couldn't be more timely for Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes as the Goannas prepare for a critical road trip to Ganmain Sportsground on Sunday.
Dickins' return from suspension allows MCUE to push recruit Blake Chapman to full-back against Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong, as the Goannas go in search of back-to-back victories.
The Lions are a win ahead of MCUE after four games and coach Jeremy Rowe considers it a crucial game.
"Without a doubt it's certainly a must-win game," Rowe said.
"Despite the fact there's a large proportion of the season to go, we're very understanding that 1-and-4 is not a good position to be in, and we probably see Ganmain as an opposition that have their eyes on similar spots on the ladder to us."
Rowe said Dickins, 26, is highly valuable to the Goannas, whether in the ruck or presenting a target up forward.
His return allows Chapman to take a role in defence, where he will be equally at home and in demand to close down Jethro Peck or Jacob Olsson.
"Blake's definitely as easily able to hand a key back position as he does the ruck," Rowe said.
"He's played on some really high calibre players in the Canberra comp.
"We obviously see Ganmain's talls as a strength and giving Blake a bit of time back should put us in in a good position to combat that."
Dickins and Rowe are the two ins for MCUE with Connor Griffiin (ankle) and Wes Clark making way.
The Lions have lost Tom Sase to a collarbone but also have two important inclusions as Mick Rothnie and Scott Proctor return to a side coming off a disappointing loss at Collingullie.
"We were poor. There's no doubt about it," GGGM coach Christin Macri said.
He said the Lions are very wary of MCUE, noting that in their three losses (before beating Leeton-Whitton), they've been right in games, including against Wagga Tigers and Coolamon.
But positions on the ladder aren't as big a concern as turning around their effort.
"We certainly want to win to stay ahead of the win-loss ration but regardless of that, we were so poor last game that we need to perform a whole lot better this week to make sure that that doesn't happen again," Macri said.
He said the Lions can't afford to leave the workload to too few of their players.
"Everyone's got to do their bit and we had way too few doing their bit in that game," he said.
"They knew, during and after the game. And then we had our review on the Tuesday which we always do.
"They knew exactly what was missing. It's up to us as a group but I can talk to them about certain things, and they're the ones who are playing the game.
"They know what our best footy looks like. Everyone was disappointed with the performance. You just hope that they know it's game-on again this week. They've had a couple of weeks to think about it so hopefully it changes first thing this week, on Sunday."
The Lions had a flying start in this fixture last year, kicking eight goals in the first quarter to bury the Goannas and have the home crowd up and about.
From MCUE's point of view, Rowe said the Lions being at home won't factor at all in their pre-game preparation but he's looking forward to the occasion.
"As far as being a football fan goes, I think the Ganmain crowd are great," Rowe said.
"They turn up, they support their crew, they're happy to serve it up to the opposition and cheer their own team.
"We're all really excited about the game. But (them being at home) doesn't take any of our energy in our preparation."