New England rugby's new kids on the block, Walcha, are the red-hot favourites to win this year's competition, says Tamworth president Mitch Hanlon.
"Oh God, yeah," Hanlon said when asked if Walcha would be tough to beat.
He added: "I can't see how they can't be ... They're a nice team; they're a good club."
In fact, Hanlon believes that "there's something wrong" if the Rams "don't towel us up".
He said: "Look, Walcha's gonna be a new dynamic: they're the [Central North] grand finalists the last three years."
He added: "I can't see their playing roster changing terribly much [from last season].
"All the Armidale clubs, because they're really heavily based on the uni crowd, you know, they probably will be weakened this year [due to COVID-19 restrictions]."
Walcha lost the past three Central North grand finals to Pirates, and joined New England Rugby Union after the former cancelled its 2020 season because the pandemic.
Hanlon said: "Obviously, Walcha is gonna be a standout; their impact is gonna be a big curiosity factor.
"And the other one is [returning first-grade outfit] Glen Innes, with their new player roster ... We don't know what they're gonna be like. And it's a short season, so everyone's gonna have to hit the ground running."
The NERU executive formulated a draft draw on Friday night, with a July 25 start date and six rounds leading to a three-week finals series. Grand final day is September 26.
Hanlon said a full compliment of trophies would be up for grabs.
He said: "It was originally talked about, well, if we're not having a proper competition, we don't have a proper trophy handover.
"But we [the NERU executive] had a big discussion about that on Friday night, and the view was, amongst as all, that we should actually put it all up for contention.
"And if Walcha win the Sawers Shield, well so be it. They won it before, back in the 1950s, I understand [it was 1953]. So why not again?"
Last week, Rams president Roger Van Den Hoek told the Leader that the move to New England was not permanent, but Hanlon would not be surprised to see their stay extended beyond 2020.
Logistically, he said, "it would make more sense for them to stay in New England".