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Hamilton Tiger-Cats kick off 2019 pre-season with trip to Ottawa

Hamilton Tiger-Cats linebacker Simoni Lawrence (21) puts a wrestling belt over the shoulder of quarterback Jeremiah Masoli (8) during second half CFL Football division semifinal game action against the B.C. Lions in Hamilton, Ont., on Nov. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power

Tired of hitting their teammates at training camp, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats open their 2019 pre-season schedule Saturday in Ottawa against the Redblacks (7 p.m. at TD Place Stadium).

Tiger-Cats head coach Orlondo Steinauer won’t be approaching the contest like a dress rehearsal.

READ MORE: Tiger-Cats open training camp with solid returning core, some new faces

He says even his veteran players will have something to prove.

“If you’re travelling with us to the game, you’re going to play,” said Steinauer following the team’s final practice before flying to Ottawa. “No one is assured a roster spot. You have to go out there and compete, so everyone is going to play a good amount of football.”

Steinauer was introduced as the 26th head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in December. He took over for June Jones, who stepped aside to take the role of offensive co-ordinator.

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On May 13, it was reported that Jones would be leaving the Ticats for an XFL head coaching job in Houston.

Steinauer has always had the reputation of being a “players’ coach.”

“He’s one of those guys you don’t want to let down,” said Hamilton linebacker Simoni Lawrence, speaking about Steinauer. “He lets you be you, as a person. Not everyone is going to think the same but we all have a common goal.”

That goal, as always, is a Grey Cup championship.

“This vibe reminds me of 2013-2014 when we went to back-to-back Grey Cups,” Lawrence added. “I feel like this [coaching] staff definitely knows how to get to the Grey Cup.”

This year, 2019, will mark the 20-year-anniversary of the last championship in Tiger-Town.

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READ MORE: Tiger-Cats to deliver ‘social stadium experience’ for 2021 Grey Cup

The only current CFL team nursing a longer Grey Cup title drought is the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (28 years).

Hamilton will play their second and final pre-season game on June 6 against the Toronto Argonauts at Tim Hortons Field.

The Tiger-Cats open their regular season at home on June 13 against the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

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