After producing a fairytale run to capture the Ballarat District Bowls Saturday Pennant premiership last season, Sebastopol skipper Ian Warner says a repeat will be challenging but certainly not out of the question.
The reigning premier will take on Mt Xavier at home on Saturday in the opening round of the 2020-21 season.
Warner said the Kookaburras were chomping at the bit following the extended layoff brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I think the group of players that established themselves in the premiership side last season are looking forward to it," he said.
"But we've got two good players not playing, so whether we are quite as good as last year is yet to be seen."
The club will be without premiership skipper Anthony Holland, who has taken his talents to Deer Park in the Melbourne premier ranks. Rob Baker has also stepped aside, making way for talented up-and-comer Tim Beacham.
Bruce Carter has come into the side after dropping out midway through last season, while skipper Glenn Sargent is raring to go following knee surgery.
Murray Gannon, who came into the side late last summer, will replace Holland as skipper, while Carter will play as a third.
With the fixture reduced to a 14-round season, Warner said a good start would vital to premiership success.
"We started very slowly last year and didn't get right until finals," Warner said.
"It's a funny draw, because it's a shorter season and you don't play everyone twice."
Games have also been reduced from 25 ends to 21 ends and players will no longer stop for lunch, making for significantly shorter matchplay.
"It's going to be interesting not being able to get the team together. There will certainly be some differences," Warner said.
After being on the brink of collapse after Christmas, Sebastopol won a string of games to capture the flag from fourth spot. Despite some key losses, Warner said the club still had a premiership nucleus in place.
"We just felt if we could make it and got all our players and combinations back we would always be some sort of a chance," he said.
In other games on Saturday, Webbcona will host Creswick, Buninyong will take on Learmonth, Ballarat will open against newcomers Linton and Victoria will face off with Ballarat Memorial Sports.