Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Road and Rumba ready to rock

The lid will come off and all will be revealed when Rumbalara and Congupna square off in the opening round of Murray Football League on Saturday.

DAMEN FRANCIS April 10, 2014 3:15am

New Rumbalara playing coach Damian Cupido says his team can’t wait for the opening bounce of the Murray Football League season this weekend.

A typical off-season of fact, fiction and intrigue comes to an end on Saturday, when the ball is bounced in round one of a new Murray Football League season.

The team that has caused arguably the biggest stir — Rumbalara — opens its campaign away to its nearest rival Congupna at Memorial Oval.

Just this week high profile new Rumba coach Damian Cupido unveiled three more key signings, led by his recently retired ex-Essendon teammate Nathan Lovett-Murray.

Tiwi Bombers pair Kevin Portaminni and John Timaepatua are also on board.

The Road coach Kevin O’Donoghue was ready to dive straight in the deep in.

‘‘Rumba have got some pretty big names there, so it will be a pretty big challenge,’’ O’Donoghue said.

‘‘They’ve got a few new blokes from up Darwin way, but then they’ve got your AFL blokes. Cupido is going to be a handful up forward and Brad Dick’s a very classy player. A couple of their locals that played last year like Rex Taylor and Justin Terlich are players of high quality as well.

‘‘The first game there is always a little bit of unknown. We have a lot of new faces and we’re a bit unsure on a lot of the blokes, so we’ll just see how they line up.’’

The Road will include about seven new players including midfielder Dan Collyer, defender Harry Moran and ruckman Jack Ellis.

One concern is Heath Barton, who is in doubt with a calf injury.

O’Donoghue expected Cupido to play forward, but the athletic utility said he was still to decide where he would play and it was largely dependent on Lovett-Murray’s availability.

‘‘If Nathan is going to play, I could have the luxury of putting myself up forward, but it will be between the arcs going forward I would say,’’ Cupido said.

‘‘I don’t think anyone knows what to expect in round one, you hear a lot of things in the off-season, I’m sure they would have heard a lot about what’s going on with us, but at the end of the day, they wouldn’t have a clue and we wouldn’t have a clue until the ball is bounced 2pm Saturday.’’

Rumba will be without Jonathon Henderson, who continues to work his way back to fitness from a knee injury, but Dick — who Cupido described as Rumba’s Rolls-Royce — Portaminni and Timaepatua will debut in midfield, attack and defence respectively.

One of the most keenly anticipated match-ups is in the ruck, where highly rated Rumba recruit Leon Johnson will go toe-to-toe with ex-Benalla big Ellis and Road regular Mitch Sidebottom.

Ellis developed into one of the most damaging ruckmen in the Goulburn Valley Football League last year, while Johnson arrives with plenty of plaudits from Sunraysia Football League side Robinvale.

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