Heading into the 2020 the season St Alberts co-coach Scott Waterson knew they had lost a few players but was expecting last year's New England runners-up to still be "reasonably strong".
Then, like Jonah Lomu on Mike Catt at the 1995 World Cup, coronavirus trampled over everything. They were actually mid-training following the Armidale Knockout when the news came through that all rugby had been suspended and promptly had to stop.
Now as they prepare to take the field again next month it is very much a case of cobbling a side together and what that will look like Waterson and coaching partner Chuck Franklin won't know until probably the end of June.
That is when students are expected to return to the college, although it will still be in a limited capacity.
Waterson said they're not sure who is going to come back at this stage but expects there will be sufficient numbers to field two competitive men's sides, and a women's team.
The reality is they probably won't be the force of recent times.
"They won't be the same strength as they were in previous years because some kids have simply chosen not to come back and other kids even if they want to simply won't be able to get in because of the limitation on numbers," Waterson said.
But getting a side is only the first challenge. They've then got to whip them into match shape in the space of only a few weeks.
Spread far and wide, Waterson's only contact with the players since March has been via social media.
"At the moment I contact my squad via Facebook messenger and say here's a fitness program, get out and get amongst it because when you come back we need you to be aerobically fit because we're not going to have time to play ourselves into a season," he said.
The hope is that they will be able to pretty much go straight into full squad and contact training, with restrictions expected to be eased from July 1.
Waterson said the excitement is starting to build up among the playing group.
"Now we do have something that looks like it might be more tangible there is a palpable sense of excitement," he said.
Generally too, he said, there is a lot of excitement around the season. He noted the apparent resurrection of Glen Innes (the Elks have indicated their intention to play first grade this season) and the likely addition of Walcha. Barbarians also appear to be strong and ready to hit the ground running, he said.