New Turvey Park co-coach Josh Ashcroft believes the Bulldogs are going up against the benchmark in round one after they drew Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong to start the AFL Riverina Championship.
Ashcroft and teammate Chase Grintell will share the coaching duties after Mark Carroll and Jeremy Sykes stepped down, and they're preparing for the proverbial baptism of fire.
"Ganmain, I reckon they'll be firing, to be honest, if not the team to be beat. That's my opinion," Ashcroft said.
The star-studded Lions had a strong win at Osborne last week while the Bulldogs warmed up with a handy victory against CSU, although they kicked 7.16 to 4.2.
Ashcroft said there's plenty for he and Grintell to be excited about.
"We've got so much raw ability and talent with these young blokes, there's plenty of upside there," Ashcroft said.
"If we'd kicked straight last week, it would've been a bit different on the scoreboard but that's not to worry about in the praccie matches. We'll just worry about the fundamentals at the moment.
"It was great. It was just good to have a run. We'll work on trying to get the hype up at the club and get the buzz up and enjoy it while we can. Who knows what next week or the week after brings."
Ashcroft has been back at Turvey Park for three years, after a premiership-winning stint at The Rock-Yerong Creek, while Grintell was an assistant at Temora before he returned. As senior players, they were happy to accept the committee's request that they coach.
"I suppose the committee thought that was the best fit and we didn't want to say no," Ashcroft said.
"We're just trying to do the best thing by the club and the young group and get them a little bit excited.
"It'd just be good for these young blokes (to have a season) to give them some sort of reward after doing the pre-season, then the stop-start stuff. Even the practice match last week, it was good to turn things over and have a game."
The Bulldogs finished sixth last year under Carroll and Sykes, closing out the year with three good wins but cursing some narrow losses earlier that cost them a finals appearance.