LINLITHGOW ROSE boss Mark Bradley says his side are equipped to deal with the pressure that comes with being Super League champions.
Bradley’s men will unfurl the championship flag tomorrow as they host Broxburn in their league opener.
After romping to the title last term without losing a game, Bradley admits his men are there to be shot at this season but is confident he has the squad to cope.
“This is a big season for us and one we’ll need to face up to,” said Bradley.
“There’ll be a different pressure on us as champions. Teams will be having a go at us and we’ll need to be on the ball to meet that challenge.
“However, this is where we want to be. We have a squad good enough to face that challenge and deal with the pressures.
“I like the new 16-team league set-up and think it’ll be good for clubs to feel they have a chance over the distance. It’ll be interesting to see how the clubs manage the extra games.
“We had a terrific season last year and that’ll be hard to follow but I think we have a squad young enough and good enough. We’ve freshened up the squad with a couple of new players but we may need one more.”
Bradley expects a stronger challenge from Rose’s rivals this season after clinching the title by a whopping 19 points last term.
“We face Broxburn tomorrow and they were the surprise of the Super League last season,” said Bradley.
“We had some tight games against them last season and expect the same tomorrow. The challenge this season will come from a lot of clubs, though. Bo’ness and Bonnyrigg will be up there along with Musselburgh, Newtongrange and Kelty. Armadale will give anyone a game and Tayport are back in the top league too.”
Broxburn manager Steve Pittman has strengthened his pool and his men had a terrific pre-season.
“We’re really looking forward to tomorrow and see how we shape up against the champions,” he said.
“We played seven pre-season games and did really well but the real challenge though starts tomorrow.
“We had a good first season in the Super League last year and this time we’re looking to push ourselves against the big boys.
“We fear no side and feel we can, on our day, beat any side.
“We have a squad of 19 players with everyone good enough to be playing every week. We signed players like Robbie Manson and Connor Devaney, who are settling in well, so tomorrow can’t come quick enough for us.”
Bonnyrigg boss Max Christie has been busy this summer with good additions to his squad as his team look to win back the title.
“We finished last season like a train and hopefully with the new players we brought in that’ll give us the extra push from the start of the season,” said Christie.
“We won the East of Scotland Cup last term and were still disappointed. The start to the season is very important and we’re looking to get off to that start against Carnoustie tomorrow.”
Bon’ess manager Alan McGonigal has signed an almost complete new side and will be looking for nothing less than three points from tomorrow’s trip across the Forth to St Andrews.
Elsewhere in the Super League, newly-promoted Newtongrange Star host Kelty Hearts, fellow new boys Armadale have a tough start at home to Ballingry, and David McGlynn’s young Musselburgh side have a home start against Tayport.
With the return of relegation to the top divisions and the introduction of play-offs, it’s shaping up to be an exciting season in the Juniors.
Let battle commence.