PORT Macquarie Magpies will kick-off the 2020 AFL North Coast season in the home surrounds of Wayne Richards Park.
The 'Pies will still be smarting from last year's grand final defeat to Coffs Harbour when they threw away a 20-point lead midway through the third term before the Breakers kicked the final eight goals of the contest.
Coach Blake Nelson and his men have had nine months to dwell on what went wrong, but he hopes the addition of a few new faces can help his side.
"We've got a few new blokes that are keen to put on the magpie jumper," he said.
"And the boys from last year are hungrier than ever to get that one step closer given the circumstances and it adds extra motivation with the interrupted pre-season and shortened competition."
This season Port Macquarie will have the added benefit of hosting one more match than their Coffs counterparts throughout the season.
They open their campaign next Saturday when Sawtell-Toormina head south on the Pacific Highway.
Both Port Macquarie and Grafton will have six home matches while Northern Beaches, Coffs Harbour and Sawtell-Toormina will have five.
The COVID-19 pandemic will result in a shortened, 11-week competition with the semi-finals to be played on the long weekend with the grand final on October 10.
Nelson admitted the stop-start nature of the pre-season had been difficult at times.
"It was a bit hit and miss and we didn't know what was going on or what was going to happen, but the league have done well to get the teams up and about and it's pretty exciting," he said.
The Magpies won't field a side in the reserve grade competition, while their women's team won't defend their title with university and work commitments seeing them unable to gather enough numbers.
"That's disappointing given the girls won the premiership last season and the ressies got close in the finals series," Nelson said.
"But it also makes people come to training and compete for spots so I see that as a positive even though it's a disappointing set of circumstances for the club."