MUDGEE Dragons have been vocal in recent weeks about its Group 10 chances in 2021, so understandably Bathurst Panthers skipper Doug Hewitt is keen to silence the boys from up north.
Speaking on the Big Sports Breakfast earlier this month, Dragons president Sebastian Flack came out and said he's "expecting to take out the comp in the top grade" after losing the 2019 decider 9-8 in extra-time to Panthers.
Hewitt said Flack's comments have made him even keener for the grand final rematch in round six on the weekend of June 5-6.
"I think it'll be a very hostile crowd up there," he said.
"We've already started laughing about that, as it seems Mudgee's already confident that they're going to win this year's comp.
"That just makes it even easier for us to get up for that match and they're just painting a target on their back, going out and saying stuff like that.
"I can guarantee that we'll walk in as a group, that we'll be ready for Mudgee. Our boys will be ready to give it back to them."
That round six fixture has been locked to be played on Dragons turf at Glen Willow and it's set to be the penultimate round of what looks to be a bumper first round of the season for Panthers.
The fixtures were released last week, with Panthers drawn to face Bathurst rivals St Pat's in the opening round of the season at Jack Arrow Sporting Complex, another fixture Hewitt is absolutely stoked for.
"Definitely the local derby, she's always the biggest one we have to amp up for, especially being round one is going to be interesting to see who goes in the most ready for it," he said.
"You've got the knockout, the Indigenous game and a couple of games like that first up, so it'll be interesting to see how things go.
"All the boys are trying to get back up for training now and getting the body ticking back over. Nothing will get the boys more pumped up then the local derby, especially on ANZAC Day."
- READ MORE: People of the Year: Guy Pascoe
And if the opening round wasn't spicy enough, round two will see Panthers clash with Orange CYMS, which will act as a curtain raiser to the Penrith Panthers-Manly Sea Eagles NRL showdown at Carrington Park.
CYMS, who will be lead by former NRL playmaker Daniel Mortimer, are hurting after missing out on the finals in 2019.
Hewitt said he's looking forward to clashing with the green and golds with a big crowd on hand.
"I'm looking forward to playing them," he said.
"It'll be good to be playing those guys on the main stage in front of another big crowd."
Other matches will see Panthers travel away to Cowra in round three, before hosting consecutive home games against Lithgow Workies in round four and Blayney Bears in round five.
Panthers are then away in round seven to 2019 minor premiers Orange Hawks, before the draw is reversed from eight onwards.
A general bye will be held across the Queen Birthday Weekend on June 12-13 and there'll be a spare weekend on July 31-August 1 to accommodate games postponed due to inclement weather.
A top five finals series will be retained, with the first week of finals series starting on August 21-22, culminating with a decider on weekend of September 11-12.