EAST Wagga Kooringal will get a welcome early chance to gauge whether they're ready to take the next step when the new-look AFL Southern NSW Women's competition gets underway on Friday night.
The Hawks, tipped to be one of the stronger teams this year, host last year's grand finalists North Wagga at Gumly Oval in the match of the round.
East Wagga Kooringal boast a strong squad after many former Riverina Lions players joined the club
The league has expanded from eight teams to 12 this year, with a conference featuring more established teams and another conference with the newcomers and last season's bottom two.
Hawks player Kyra Jackson said most of their team had played at least one season, which will hopefully give them an advantage.
"We don't really have any new football players, there's a couple there but we've been pretty lucky in that sense," she said.
"We're expanding the number of teams which is good. More games would be lovely than just the six, but I think we're getting there slowly."
Hawks teammate Kate Opolski can see the quality of the league improving from year to year.
"The skill level is rising. Last year it was very CSU and North Wagga dominated, but now the girls know how to kick a footy or have a bounce, and the level of confidence with everyone's skills is rising," she said.
"It's great to have a bigger finals series this year too, and spread it around a bit more."
North Wagga stalwart Sarah Harmer said it was difficult to predict how the squad stacks up to the rest under new coach Brayden Skeers, with a host of new players coming on board.
"We have probably 12 new players, half of them haven't played before so we don't know what position they feel confident at just yet," she said.
"Our first couple of games will be about rotating them and seeing where they best fit, and have someone experienced nearby to guide them as they're probably going to be on somewhere good.
"(Given we're in the stronger pool, they won't get the opportunity where we're beating some teams easily in previous years where we can experiment."
The two sides play each other again in the sixth and final round.
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