The Great Lakes Dolphins start their tilt at a premiership chase with two contrasting games in the Manning District Comp this weekend.
The Seconds are at home on the South Street turf to Taree West, who has apparently bulked up this year with a number of former Premier League players stepping down to assist young up and comers and future development.
This will be a close one as both clubs try to sort out what's what and who is in and out.
The locals will be looking to their last season skipper Sam Hull to continue his class batting whilst the return of Blake Clark is a boon.
With young tyros Liam Simpson and Jack Howard having worked hard all off-season, as well as the dangerous Adam Lewis and club president and stalwart David Balaam, the squad is ready to give it their best.
Thirds are in a grand final replay with the strong Bulahdelah squad who may be looking to punish the loose ball even more than normal, with the drought perhaps keeping the usual Bula 'heavy field' a bit more cricket-friendly.
Their strong roster looks to be imposing again and their experience will be a tough hurdle first up for what looks like a young Dolphin's pod.
Having said that, those same youngsters did well last year and with evergreen skipper Mick Adams, Al May and Cam Thiess still around, the Lakes' lads will give it a shot.
The Dolphins are scrambling to fill their roster with a number of senior players withdrawing and first week unavailability stretching the makeup for the opening matches.
The youngsters who have performed well previously will be a boon to selectors.
There are also some new players ready to step up if needed.
Both squads have a few surprise inclusions to come and with some players having opted out this season, there will be excitement for those stepping into the breach.
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Like all years, it may take a while for clubs to finalise their rosters and it will be a round or so before things level out in what should be a similar season to last year, with plenty of close battles.
There has been some development in regards to participating clubs, with Gloucester entering the Manning comp and ready to make a mark.
They have a talented young crew and some experienced vets from their over 35s and beyond who could prove a telling challenge.
Having their superb turf facilities available will be good for visiting sides too as the Manning Association rightly aims to get as many games on turf as possible to help develop young cricketers' skills and experiences.
Sadly, United have not been able to nominate a second-grade side despite their excellent win in last year's Premier League but they will no doubt work hard to sort things out for a return next season and everyone wishes them well.
Their thirds will help the process and should prove a force in that comp.
With the Gloucester Bushmen having arrived in the Manning, that still leaves five clubs to fight out what will be an enthralling Second Grade comp.
Old Bar apparently have a swag of new players to make them early dark horses, with their thirds and another Old Bar/Harrington joint venture adding to numbers.
With the strong Wingham club also having developed their roster through the juniors and recent successes, it also sees them have a second thirds squad which they are congratulated for.
So an eight-team Third Grade comp is established which is great and provides more juniors in the various clubs with the chance to play some senior matches in addition to their junior games.
All in all, it should prove another beaut year for those wishing to follow on from the excitement of the Ashes and World Cup.
With clogged calendars for juniors through to veterans in all age groups, The Dolphins wish all clubs and players the best for an enjoyable season of playing our national game.
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