PORT City Breakers' under-18s went out in straight sets in 2019, but would admit overall they exceeded expectations.
Things are a little different in 2020 with the Group 3 senior season being cancelled, the under-18s will align with the junior competition which starts on Saturday.
The Breakers will have first grade coach Dan Kemp in charge and he's looking forward to seeing what the next generation has to offer.
After all, they're the future of the club.
"There are kids that have come along in leaps and bounds," he said.
"Taj O'Brien is one, Kieran Gainsford is coming off a knee reconstruction but has been training the house down and Cody Fisher hasn't gotten out of the gym.
"They're all really excited about a game of footy."
It will be a return to their junior days, starting with Forster in round one.
"There are no tunnels or change rooms and you get dressed on the sideline, but it's great to have the footy back," Kemp said.
"You're not expecting too much, just go out there and run and tackle."
Clubs from Forster-Tuncurry to Coffs Harbour will be involved in the season with the girls league tag (under-13, under-15 and under-17 age divisions) to start the season on Friday night.
Boys grades from under sixes to under 18s will kickoff from Saturday. This is the first time under 18s have played under the junior league banner.
Group Three Juniors adopted the 18s when Group Three seniors voted not to play this year.
Group Two teams including Bowraville, Coffs Comets, Kempsey Dragons and Macksville will play in the under 16s and 18s this season by invitation.
Macksville will field a side in the under 18s, joining Group Three teams Forster-Tuncurry, Old Bar, Wingham, Port City, Wauchope, Port Macquarie and Macleay Valley.
"Unfortunately Taree City was forced to withdraw,'' Group Three JRL president Warren Blissett of Forster said.
"So Wingham and Old Bar have been the main benefactors there.''
The league also has to comply with stringent COVID-19 guidelines.
To give players as many games as possible there will only be a two week semi-final series, starting on Friday September 18 with the league tag and continuing on Saturday September 19.
Winners from week one move through to the grand finals the following weekend.
League tag deciders are scheduled for the Jack Neal Oval on Friday night September 25, with the modified grades (under 10s to 12s) at Port Macquarie Regional Stadium on Saturday September 26.
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