HARLEQUINS coach Brendan Watson is confident his side will adjust to Wagga Hockey's new-look Super Nines format after beginning their quest for a fourth straight title with a scoreless draw against Lake Albert on Saturday.
Watson said both teams were a little hesitant to press forward and expose themselves defensively in a tentative first outing.
The Super Nines was introduced this season to accommodate clubs who had lost players due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Watson said the side who can tweak their tactics to suit best will have an advantage.
"Trying to adjust to the Super Nines had a big impact I think," Watson said.
"I was talking to (Lake Albert captain) Craig Knowles and we both said with less people on the field, people were a bit more reluctant to go forward as they felt like the team would be stranded at the back.
"Everyone was a bit gun shy I guess and probably struggling for oxygen, given it was the first game for a while and there's less people on the field.
"The talk from the senior players was to keep it exactly the same and let it become more natural.Our group has been together for a long time playing 11 a side positions, to mix it up was probably a big adjustment to us."
Wagga Hockey is optimistic the format will remain long term, but Watson feels a return to the traditional 11-a-side next year is the way forward.
"When you go away for rep teams you're playing 11-a-side hockey, you don't want guys getting out of habits," he said.
"The future is definitely with 11-a-side i think, we're just happy to get back on the field and hopefully it stays that way."
In the other men's match Royal sealed a 2-1 win over CSU courtesy of a goal from a penalty corner awarded just second before fulltime.
Royals began their quest for another premiership with an entertaining 6-5 win over Rosellas, while Lake Albert held off CSU 1-0.