An abbreviated sporting season could have put some players off, but for AFL premiership winner Craig Bird it was quite the opposite.
The former Sydney Swans and Essendon Bombers player will line up with junior club Nelson Bay again in 2020 when the AFL Hunter Central Coast (HCC) competition kicks off later this month.
Bird, who lives in New Lambton and works in Newcastle but still has family at Port Stephens, returned to the Marlins last year and has now opted to take the field once more with a shorter 12 rounds on offer post coronavirus.
"I'm going to have a run again," Bird told the Newcastle Herald.
"I wasn't sure [originally], but with the shorter season it was actually better for me."
The 31-year-old, who played 157 AFL games featuring the 2012 flag, has attended training the last two weeks in preparation for the season opener on July 18.
Bird feels the Marlins, who could score 2016 Elliott Davey Medal recipient Jayden Rymer back from the Gold Coast, have the potential to improve.
"We've got a few more numbers this year and some younger guys so hopefully we can be a bit more competitive," he said.
Nic Griffith takes over the Nelson Bay coaching reins from Sean McGrath. The Marlins were eighth in 2019.
Elsewhere, Black Diamond Cup defending premiers Terrigal Avoca welcome back three-time best and fairest James Webster in 2020 after missing last season with a knee injury.
City may pick up Reed van Huisstede, who was voted best on ground in the 2018 grand final, depending on commitments with the Swans after the NEAFL competition was recently cancelled.
Warners Bay collect Bulldogs product Ky McGrath, who had been poised to play with SANFL club the South Adelaide Panthers.
Singleton have a new mentor with Jed Ellis-Cluff joining the Roosters from Sydney outfit the Camden Cats, but 2019 representative captain Andrew Scott remains part of the squad.
AFL HCC community football manager Sam Zikman said a draft draw was expected to be finalised next week.
Meanwhile, the women's Black Diamond Cup will have 10 teams after Nelson Bay merged with Port Stephens and Wallsend-West Newcastle were promoted.