THE RED Devils plan on out- running the Rams to break a three-year spell of losses as they travel to Walcha today.
Walcha will be looking to the big crowd to support it as it tries to get a leg-up into the top tier of Central North Rugby this season.
The Rams are sharing Captain Cook Park with the Second Division Walcha Roos today, with most of the town sitting in the stands to watch both sides start their season.
It is also a special day for Gunnedah as halfback Dave Heyman celebrates his 200th game of first grade.
Gunnedah has not notched up a win against Walcha for three years – that is at least six games.
Coach Tim Walsh can’t put his finger on the reason why but has a plan to change it.
“We have been doing a lot of fitness in the off season and will look to play a fast and high- intensity game,” Walsh said.
“We want to recycle the ball, keep it in hand and come home with a wet sail in the last 20 minutes.”
The Walcha coach Andrew Jack might also have the same idea.
“Walcha are renowned for having good forwards and a fast backline,” Jack said.
“That is how we are going to play.”
Walcha has lost and gained a couple of players but, most importantly for the coach, has some young faces coming through.
“There is a bit of a vibe in the club and a lot of passion and fun this year,” Jack said.
“We are excited to get into the season and are looking to hit that top five.”
While Walcha is only fielding a first grade, Gunnedah is averaging almost 40 senior players at every session.
The devils are taking 23 to Walcha, while a makeshift third grade side will play a Pirates third grade in an exhibition Tens match in Tamworth.
“We have got a lot of depth and hope the new system can ensure that everyone gets a game of footy every week,” Walsh said.
“The overriding thing for us is to get in that top tier.”
Former Albies and New England fullback James Perrett has returned and will be a handful for any club coming into the line.
Flanker Peter Hughes and hooker Matt Hannay, who briefly retired between seasons, are in top form and will lead the pack.
The Red Devils have got a tough start, with premiers Moree next week and Pirates after that.
“We have set the goal of winning at least one of those games,” Walsh said.
“Everyone was disappointed with last season, even the reserves who lost in the grand final.
“We have done barely anything except fitness and conditioning and hope that gives us the edge this year.”