Emus on top? A Forbes renaissance? Battle-hardened Dogs? A Roos side on the rise? City set to make a lot of noise?
The 2020 Blowes Clothing Cup is just around the corner and there's plenty of questions ahead of the looming campaign.
Nine rounds, most clubs playing just seven games. Five teams, just two weeks of finals ... it's a cut-throat format but, as CWRU boss Matt Tink said after revealing the draws last week, any rugby is better than no rugby.
Despite most clubs having a lot of balls still up in the air ahead of the July 18 relaunch date, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realise experience will be key in the situation rugby clubs find themselves in this winter.
The teams that have played with each other, and had success, will most likely be the teams there at the end fighting out for some silverware come late September.
Emus, they've played in the last six grand finals. Lock them in again. And of course, the defending premiers are making all the right noises as they prepare to defend the break-through title won in 2019.
But there's still lot's of questions. And in turn, you can bank on plenty of surprises as well.
And with such a shortened season, nine weeks will come and go in the blink of an eye.
We've gone through game-by-game and predicted who'll come out on top, and the resulting ladder after nine rounds of the 2020 season.
There's predictability. Home ground advantage will be king. Those with momentum will be near unstoppable.
For that reason, Emus finish on top. The Chooks have one less bye, but in a shortened season playing that extra game will be crucial.
Four games, a break, then four more games leading into the finals: really, it's a great draw and the fact they travel to Forbes in round one then Bathurst in round two means Pete Bromley's men leave Orange just once over the next seven weeks.
A home final, potentially home grand final, are seemingly their's for the taking.
The Bulldogs will be near the pointy end of the ladder for the duration, but it's often said defending a title is harder than winning one, so how the blue and gold hoops handle that assignment will be intriguing.
Forbes to surge: you heard it here first.
A shortened campaign will help the Platypi, who boast a throng of rep-calibre players and I expect the blue and whites will also enjoy an influx of gun players who are now without a game of rugby league.
Adam Hall and Blake Ridges, the Trundle co-coaches who have played a lot of rugby with Forbes, would be at the top of that list.
A semi-final berth is a lock for the Platypi.
The final piece of the puzzle is a tricky fit. The rebuilding Lions who are absolutely due some joy on the rugby field, or a Roos side pulverised by injury in the last two campaigns?
The Lions face defending premiers Bathurst once, and a bye in round one in a really condensed season is a pretty nice break to have.
(We don't see) the first week bye as an advantage but I don't think it's a disadvantage either.City coach Viv Passi on the Lions' draw
As Viv Passi said this week, the Lions don't see "the first week bye as an advantage but I don't think it's a disadvantage either".
The reality is, it's a big help.
Two byes in a shortened season could potentially stall any sort of momentum teams gain after a couple of good wins.
The fact City has just the one mid-season break - that round six bye - will give the Lions longer stretches of time on the field, which will be key if City is to make any noise in 2020 - which I think they can.
Two wins at home, the second in a derby classic late in the year.
The Lions are more-than-capable. We'll see it in Passi's second year in charge. A big chance to sneak into fourth.
Which leaves Roos, a side you could argue has been one of the unluckiest in the region.
The club has been crippled by injury in recent seasons, which means a lot of new combinations will take the field this winter, which is a plus for the club.
But if things don't gel early on, it'll be tough for the Dubbo club to find any sort of form.
And in a shortened campaign, hitting the ground running is vital.
PREDICTED ROUND-BY-ROUND WINNERS
- ROUND ONE: Bulldogs def Roos at Dubbo; Emus def Platypi at Forbes; City BYE.
- ROUND TWO: City def Roos at Orange; Bulldogs def Emus at Bathurst; Platypi BYE.
- ROUND THREE: Emus def City at Endeavour; Bulldogs def Platypi at Bathurst; Roos BYE.
- ROUND FOUR: Emus def Roos at Orange; Platypi def City at Forbes; Bulldogs BYE.
- ROUND FIVE: Platypi def Roos at Dubbo; Bulldogs def City at Orange; Emus BYE.
- ROUND SIX: Bulldogs def Roos at Bathurst; Emus def Platypi at Orange; City BYE.
- ROUND SEVEN: Roos def City at Dubbo; Emus def Bulldogs at Orange; Platypi BYE.
- ROUND EIGHT: City def Emus at Pride Park; Platypi def Bulldogs at Forbes; Roos BYE.
- ROUND NINE: Emus def Roos at Dubbo; Platypi def City at Orange; Bulldogs BYE.
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