Sturt is bracing itself to be the hunted instead of being the hunter for the 2017 SANFL Macca’s League season.
Having come from eighth spot in 2015 to win the premiership last year, the Double Blues sense they are well positioned for sustained success.
Speaking on SANFL Radio, Sturt coach Marty Mattner says his side must continue to improve its ball movement and depth to stay at the top of the table.
The boys from Unley face a testing period early in the season with star midfielder James Battersby sidelined for eight weeks with a finger injury and reliable defenders Tom Harms (knee) and Sam Jonas (hamstring) to miss at least three matches with their ailments.
Captain Zane Kirkwood and first-choice ruckman Jack Osborn are also coming off limited pre-seasons due to injury concerns.
But Mattner is pleased with the next generation of Sturt youngsters set to be given their chance to shine early, particularly the likes of Mitch Crowden, Callum Coleman-Jones and Joel Thiele.
Sturt will unfurl its premiership flag before its Round 1 clash with Adelaide at Peter Motley Oval on Sunday.