Tamworth's preparation for the New England rugby season has received a double boost: an upcoming trial match against the Dubbo Rhinos and an early resumption of contact training.
The July 11 trial will be played at Rugby Park, while sporting groups were advised that contact training could commence last Wednesday - a week earlier than expected.
Tamworth president Mitch Hanlon said the resumption of contact training was "great news".
He said: "It's a benefit to us, because it means we can get a bit more prepared before the season starts proper."
The early resumption of contact training means Tamworth also has extra time to prepare for the trial against Dubbo, ahead of the July 25 season launch.
Hanlon said there had been plans to stage the match in the initial preseason, before the lockdown.
He said a Magpies player knows Rhinos players and the game came about that way.
The idea for the match, he said, was "thrown around" and people said: 'That'll be good; they're a good club.'
"And they're willing to come up here ... It's gonna be good; it's gonna be really good."
From July 1 in NSW, senior community sport restarts and spectators must abide by the four-square-metre rule (the NSW government amended the public health act on June 12 to abolish the 500-person upper limit).
Hanlon has done the maths: under the rule, Rugby Park can hold 450 people.
"I mapped it all out," he said. "I mapped out the capacity inside the clubhouse - 52 inside the clubhouse and 19 on the balcony.
"A couple hundred up the sidelines, and 100 at either end [of the ground]."
However, Hanlon is not overly optimistic the match will attract a capacity crowd, as he fears people will still be reluctant to attend larger-scale events.
He described the spike in COVID cases in Victoria as "a worry".
"This thing's not going away."