Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - SPORT - By JAMIE LOWE

Deni Rhi­nos will be miss­ing three key play­ers for their Mur­ray Val­ley Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion open­ing round clash against Co­bram-Yar­roweyah United to­mor­row.

Trav­el­ling to Scott Oval in Co­bram, the Rhi­nos are with­out young pace bowlers Liam Pitts and Ben Ir­win and all-rounder Bod­die Arthur who are all un­avail­able.

The Rhi­nos have also lost key play­ers dur­ing the off-sea­son, with open­ing bowler Tom McGre­gor suf­fer­ing a se­ri­ous knee in­jury play­ing footy and all-rounder Brodie Ben­nett sign­ing with Tyabb Cricket Club in the Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion.

De­spite the open­ing round hur­dles, Rhi­nos non-play­ing coach John Arthur said he was still pos­i­tive about his side’s chances.

He said they would fi­nalise the Premier Grade team at their Thurs­day train­ing ses­sion (last night).

Arthur said the club was also still in the process of sign­ing at least one im­ported player for the sea­son ahead.

‘‘We’re ex­pect­ing a tough game (to­mor­row) but I still like our chances,’’ Arthur said.

‘‘They’ve ( CYU) brought in some im­ported play­ers af­ter strug­gling for a cou­ple of sea­sons. I think we’re go­ing to see a dif­fer­ent CYU out­fit.

‘‘We’re seek­ing im­ports as well but un­for­tu­nately they won’t be here for the first few weeks.’’

Last year the Rhi­nos fin­ished fifth on the lad­der, just miss­ing out on fi­nals with six wins.

The Rhi­nos made light work of CYU both times they met last sea­son, with the Co­bram-based side fin­ish­ing in last place with three wins for the sea­son.

Deni Rhi­nos cap­tain Brad Todd said los­ing McGre­gor, who was the club’s lead­ing wicket taker in 2016/17, and Ben­nett was a big loss.

‘‘Tom and Brodie can both bat and bowl so that’s a cou­ple of big outs,’’ he said.

‘‘We might have a cou­ple of young blokes de­but, which is a great ex­pe­ri­ence for them and great for the club’s fu­ture, but we’ll also have our reg­u­lars play­ing.’’

Those reg­u­lars in­clude vet­er­ans Ash Ger­mano, An­thony Bradley and Todd at the top of the bat­ting or­der.

The Rhi­nos may also look to Chris Baines to open the bowl­ing af­ter his quick rise to Premier Grade ranks last sea­son.

‘‘Play­ing fi­nals is our first goal, so we started our train­ing ear­lier this year and have had a big pre-sea­son,’’ Arthur said.

‘‘The con­struc­tion of our new bat­ting nets will be start­ing at Memo­rial Park on Mon­day so there are big things hap­pen­ing at the club.

‘‘We’re still look­ing for more play­ers to join the Rhi­nos for the sea­son, too.

‘‘Any­one new to town or any­one want­ing to take up cricket is wel­come.’’

To­mor­row’s Premier Grade match is a 45-over one-day fix­ture.

Deni Rhi­nos’ Divi­sion One side will also kick-off their sea­son with a home game against reign­ing premier Nathalia. The match will be held at Deni’s Memo­rial Park oval one from 11.30am to­mor­row.

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