Mushies mentor Tim Coates, not adverse to trying to get into the heads of rivals, has fired the first shot in what could be a series of mind games against Norths United this season.
As the sides prepare to meet in a top-of-the-table clash at Armidale on Saturday, Coates has said United, and not defending three-time champions OVA, deserve to be premiership favourites.
“They’re on top. That makes them favourites, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
The Mushies go into the match without four mainstays. Central midfielder Adam Watson, striker Luke Purcell and midfield-cum-defender Michael Cooke are out injured while midfielder/defender James Bailey has a personal commitment.
On the plus side, Mushies club captain Chris Fenton returns from injury.
In other matches on Saturday, East Armidale host Joeys, South Armidale play Tamworth at home and Demon Knights welcome North Companions.