IT'S the event that marks the beginning of another rugby league season.

Now into its fifth year, this afternoon's Hoey Moey Tooheys Coffs Coast 9s has attracted a record number of teams for the first grade, Ladies Tag and under-18s competitions.

Teams from as far away as Old Bar and North Tamworth have entered this year to help create the record number of entries, forcing organisers to play on four fields throughout the tournament.

As the host club Coffs Harbour has not enjoyed great success that some might think comes with home ground advantage.

"Our girls won the inaugural Ladies Tag competition last year but I don't think our first grade team has won any games in the past two years," club president Steve Gooley said.

"I think they'll be happy to just to win a couple of games this weekend."

Gooley believes the main reason for the increased numbers this year is the fast pace of the game and the high scoring.

"Group 2 in a lot of ways is dominated by the forwards but in Nines with more room on the firld for players to move around in, it's a chance for the half backs, the five-eighths, wingers and fulbacks to have a bit of a go," he said.

Macksville has won two of the past four titles inclusing a win over Port Macquarie in last year's final.

Gooley believes there'll be plenty of challengers for the Sea Eagles to overcome today.

"Nambucca Heads have had a bit of a resurgence and have put together a strong squad while Orar Valley is confident they'll do well," he said.

"South Grafton was unlucky to miss the final last year and I spoke to "Stumpy' (captain Garnt Stevens) this week and they're keen to do better this time around.

The first matches start at 1.30pm.



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