AFTER three weeks on the road, the Muswellbrook Heelers will finally have a chance to play on their home deck at Highbrook Park this weekend as they look to launch their title defence.
It has been a tough opening month to for the back-to-back premiers, who claimed a narrow 10-12 win over Pokolbin in round 1, but have since had a 14-point loss to Singleton Army Lions, a bye and a thumping 45-0 defeat to The Waratahs.
But, for the first time since 2019, the Heelers will play in front of their home crowd this weekend against Cooks Hill, and president Mick Hall is hoping it will stabilise their season.
Home games typically mean more players are available, although the club is still short on numbers and calling on anyone interested in playing rugby to join in a few training sessions and fill out the team.
The chance to host a game day is something Hall is excited about given they missed out on all of last year due to their season being cancelled.
"Home games are important for us because on one hand it's a great opportunity for our local supporters to hang around," he said.
"And we get to open the clubhouse which hasn't been open for 15 or 16 months due to COVID - so it's good to get back to Highbrook."
Despite the club's shaky start, Hall isn't overly concerned, having seen similar results in the early rounds of their premiership years.
"The start of the year is always difficult for us, it takes a little while to gather that momentum and it's generally around the pieces in the puzzle not falling into place," he said.
"We still need a few more players to fill jumpers, because it's such a hard environment with shift work we are struggling for numbers and we've had a few retirees and a number of injuries early.
"I was trying to talk to both the coaches and say 'we're in round four so let's not panic yet but we do need to start putting some wins together'."
The match starts on Saturday at 3pm.