New-look teams in fresh new Spring Cup competition
THE dust has settled.
The pre-season training has been completed.
The battlelines have been drawn.
It's time to rumble with the double-header kick-off of the Bundaberg Spring Cup tonight at Across the Waves Grounds.
The usual combatants will be there in Wests Barbarians, Turtles, Waves Falcons and Isis Crushers.
But a new team will enter the fray in 2015 - the Bundaberg Pythons, which turns it into a five-team competition.
Pythons have the bye this week so getting the season into gear will be a grand final replay between Barbarians and Turtles.
Reigning champions Turtles will go in as early favourites having dominated the Spring Cup for the past five years.
Turtles president Luke McCloskey said the team was shaping up quite well.
"We have some old face mixed in with some new faces," he said.
McCloskey said the inclusion of a fifth team could benefit the entire competition.
"We are all hoping it will be to the strength of the competition," he said.
"But with rugby short on players already it could put pressure on clubs to get numbers on the park."
Barbarians coach Matthew Leighton said the club had gone through a massive turnover in players.
"We have one person in our backline who played with us last year who is back this year," he said.
"Our flanker from 2014 Michael McGovern has gone overseas and he has been best and fairest at our club two years running.
"We are still short a few players in key positions."
Leighton said in the past the Spring Cup has started when the Bundaberg Rugby League season was still on so a lot of players just switched to playing union.
"This year with us having a break in between a lot of players have decided to rest up and not start training yet," he said.
"Hopefully those boys will join up soon."
Leighton said he was expecting to have 19 players for the first game and a few more join in the weeks ahead.
"The new players have been quite keen and brought a few of their mates along," he said.
As runners up the past few seasons and falling agonisingly close to winning the Spring Cup, Leighton said he was keen to go one step further in 2015.
"At this stage we think we will finish second or third in the regular season.
"But the end goal will be to win the competition."
The game kicks off at 6.30pm.