File photo shows the Belait Pythons celebrate winning the Brunei Rugby Football Union (BRFU) League title in 2011. Picture: BT File
The Belait Pythons mark their return to the Brunei Rugby Football Union (BRFU) Premiership against defending league champions, Miri Rhinos, today at 4pm.
The three time league champions and four time Darussalam Cup winners pulled out on the deadline day due to a lack of players last year, which led to some of their players spending a season playing for other teams.
The Rhinos, meanwhile, claimed their title in April after topping the league table with 26 points.
The two will kick off the league's first game at the British Army Field in Kuala Belait.
Head coach John Beart who took over the Pythons in September - a month after moving to Brunei - has set his eyes firmly on the trophy.
"We consider all games this year tough as there are only four Bruneian teams and Miri which means each squad has been bolstered," said Beart in an interview with The Brunei Times.
"The fact that Miri won last year doesn't bother us because the Pythons were not in last year's event so we cannot count that as a factor.
"They are a good side however and we will have to be on our (game) if we wish to beat them.
"The boys are focused however and if we perform then yes we can win," he said,
"We've been preparing in earnest for the last six to eight weeks but we have tried to be methodical in our preparations which started with three weeks of nothing but fitness and no ball handling at all. Then we slowly brought the ball, unit skills and then team drills in.
"We're mainly running team plays now and hopefully things will click in time for the first game," he added.
The Pythons had the chance to train with England record try scorer Rory Underwood on Feb 13.
Underwood who picked up his record by scoring 49 tries in 85 matches for England and one try for the British and Irish Lions in six matches said he was impressed with what he saw.
The Pythons also travelled to Miri on Feb 8 to go head to head with Bintulu for a warm-up match, which the Pythons won 38-24.
"Bintulu were a much bigger side physically and in numbers and have been playing as a club a lot longer," said Beart.
"However our guys won which was a credit to the extra fitness and determination they had," added Beart.
Miri Rhinos manager Sylvia Lian knows that it is necessary for them to win their opening game of the league.
"Tomorrow's event will be a tough one for us since the Pythons are back and I'm sure they are well prepared," said Lian.
"Our boys have been training hard and hopefully are well prepared for the Pythons," added Lian.
The league's second game will be between Darussalam Cup champions the Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) Sharks and Bandar Blacks at the UBD field tomorrow at 4pm.
The UBD Sharks downed the Royal Brunei Police Force Sports Council (MS PDB) 23-5 in the Darussalam Cup final in May.