NEWCASTLE Hunters hope to move on from their round-one teething problems when they take on Penrith Panthers in the Waratah Basketball League men's game at Penrith on Saturday.
The Hunters made a promising start against Norths Bears in a grand final rematch at Broadmeadow last Saturday but faded to suffer a 74-51 loss in the first game of their title defence.
After the retirement of long-serving skipper Josh Morgan and several other senior players, and the departure of league MVP Austin Thornton, the defending champions are fielding an inexperienced team this season and new coach Anthony Foy expects them to take some hits during the season.
Newcastle will suit up seven Youth League players alongside American imports Sharif Watson and Lonnie Funderburke, returning senior players Steve Davis and Michael Wilson, and forward Joe Hassan, who has been promoted from the club's Division One team.
"Norths exposed our inexperience and lack of physicality last week and we have to expect an experienced, physical team like Penrith will look to test us in those areas as well," Foy said.
Hunters women's coach Shannon Seebohm has asked all of his players to share the load in the absence of guard Cassidy McLean, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in last week's 75-48 victory over reigning champions Norths.
Newcastle will try to build on that performance at Penrith on Saturday.
Penrith went down 82-72 to 2018 runners-up Sutherland at Sutherland last Saturday in their first game of the season. Seebohm identified Sara Matthews, Meg Jefferson and sisters Tatiana and Natalia Beaumont as the players most likely to cause Newcastle problems if left unchecked.