Snappers start season at home
UPPER Mid North Coast Rugby has fallen away to a seven team competition with player shortages forcing Dorrigo to join Woolgoolga as late withdrawals.
That leaves Wauchope as the only new combatant and the Thunder come north today to confront Coffs Harbour at TG Jung Quarries Rugby Park.
Snappers coach Rob Waddy has had his own set of problems to overcome with many of his revered veterans including skipper Craig Landrigan riding into the sunset.
"There's been a big turnover but it wasn't unexpected with a lot of the boys there for a long time," Waddy said.
"Some will stay on the sidelines and others will possibly play reserve grade but after 10 or so losses from first grade, we've picked up about another 20 who have various levels of experience.
"Over time, the coaches will see what they all have to offer and we'll take it from there."
Waddy has nominated three of his youngest players as likely lads.
"Jesse Kirkman could be in for a big year," he predicted.
"He came off the bench plenty of times last season and while I'm not going to be rushing him, I can see him cementing a permanent spot.
"I've also got a scrum half named Brannon Murray who I coached when he was just a young kid.
"He comes from Woolgoolga but has been over in New Zealand for a couple of years and is the older brother of Tumma who plays in the 18s.
"Mix them with some of the harder heads such as prop James Bellamy who has also just come back to the club and we are starting to look go for the months ahead."
Waddy is tipping a tough forward battle with the Marc Minor-coached visitors from Wauchope.
"Yeah, they'll be pretty tough up front," he added.
"Our job is to hold them from getting a roll on and then finish them off wider in the backs."
Coffs Harbour v Wauchope
Kempsey v Hastings Valley
Port Macquarie v Grafton