The NHRU season kick-off has been delayed until at least May 2. The majority of clubs have finalised their squads. The competition will again feature nine clubs but the finals series has been reduced to four teams. The Herald is taking a close look at each of the clubs in the lead-up. Here is Lake Macquarie.
The Roos went from the verge of extinction to semi-finalists last season. The next step is becoming a consistent play-off contender.
Q&A - fly-half Brendan Holliday
You returned to the representative scene this year. Did you enjoy the taste of professional rugby against the Force and has it provided a lift ahead of the season?
I like the direction Scott Coleman is taking the representative program. It is always good to play a high level of footy and the Force game was a great experience. I haven't played rep footy for a few years. There were a lot of younger guys in the squad and it was good to mingle with them. You go back to the club with a bit of a lift.
Marlon Solofuti and Hayden Pedersen have taken the reins. Both have played professionally before and Hayden coached Waratah to a premiership, have they brought something different to the side?
They are still very good footballers. Players will see playing alongside them the experience they have. We have some good kids coming up from the under-18s and having coaches who are still performing on the pitch is a good thing. It helps build confidence, especially with the young boys.
With Peniata, Heins and Poese departing, you have lost a bit of grunt from the pack.
They are all good players and it's disappointing to lose them. We generally turn over a few players each year but we have some players coming through. We'll be right.
The club went from the verge of extinction to semi-finalists last season. You made so much progress last year, how important is it to keep the momentum going?
We need to be sustainable. We have the numbers now with the juniors coming through. The quality is still there. It is a matter of building up the skills of the younger players. When you look at the pack, we still have Marlon, Mika Iopa, Barcelona Lupematasila, Tevita Ah Wong and Junior Osasa. That is a lot of experience.
Justin Masters has played for Melbourne Rising in the NRC and adds to a backline that includes the returning Matt Yoeman, Kirisome Lalala, Jordy Leota and Brian Sefanaia. I imagine you will be demanding the ball?
I like to move the ball around. I think Hayden will play some games as well. If you have guys like him and Jordy Leota, you want to get the ball in their hands.
With the competition kick-off being delayed, is it a case of hoping everyone keeps ticking along with their fitness. Traditionally the Roos have been slow out of the blocks.
That has definitely been an issue for us in the past. I think every club will be underdone if the competition doesn't start until June. Hopefully everyone is doing their own work and we are ready to go.
The Roos have lost size and experience, but they will test the best if they can keep their strongest XV on the park. They are a momentum team. Solofuti, Lupematasila and Iopa get over the ad-line. They have some of the most skilful forwards in the comp and if the off-loads stick are almost unstoppable. If Holliday is given time and space, he will ensure there are plenty of points in the backline. Discipline and fitness will again be key. They have some exciting youngsters coming through from the under-18s in Liam Langejans, Cooper Price, Ryan Evans and Jaidyn Marinos. The Roos will get better as the season progresses. Depth is the question mark.