Walcha Rams coach Hyde Thomson admitted he wasn't entirely convinced about the move to New England Rugby for this season but signs from the playing group, so far, have him excited about what lies ahead.
In an effort to make sure they would run out this year after the Central North season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Rams rallied and pushed to join the shortened New England season.
They were accepted by NERU and hit the training paddock last week.
"I was a little bit sceptical to start with, I have to admit, but we had really good numbers and everyone was excited and keen which was really good."
Most of the group who turned out at the start of the year, before sports were postponed, have resumed training.
"Probably plus a couple - young guys have come into town," Thomson said.
"We had 30 last week so we are looking to field two pretty good sides.
"Even the Pirates ladies are going to come play with us now.
"We will have a women's sevens as well, hopefully we will have a few Walcha women joining them."
Before the lockdown, the Rams entered the Armidale Blues knockout carnival and finished as runners-up.
At the time, Thomson credited a host of young players with "putting their hand up to play first grade" and is eager to see how they'll perform in the season scheduled to start on July 25.
"I have got a lot of younger fellas who have been keen from day one this year; training really hard and haven't missed training and deserve a shot," he said.
"I am actually looking forward to it."
The competition will feature seven clubs - the Rams, Robb College, St Albert's College, Armidale Blues, Barbarians, Tamworth and the Glen Innes Elks.
"I have heard a lot of Inverell guys are coming over to Glen Innes to play for them and someone else told me some Pirates guys are going to play for the Magpies," Thomson said.
"So I think it should be a pretty handy little comp."