It could be the step backwards that women's rugby needs to take so the competition can ultimately grow on the lower Mid North Coast.
After a promising start in previous years, the 2021 women's 10s competition will only see three teams compete - Wauchope, Wallamba and Manning Ratz.
Three sides have already withdrawn from the competition with Forster-Tuncurry, Gloucester and Old Bar pulling the pin.
Thunder coach Lauren Nott is understandably disappointed to see the number of teams dwindle from previous years although she can see the larger picture.
A transition from 10-a-side back to the original seven-a-side format could be the answer.
"It might look like a step back in regards to progressing to 15s but you've just got to play what you can when you can," she said.
"Whether two steps forward, one step back is an option over the next few years ... hopefully by that stage we'll have more numbers.
"Then we can progress back to 10s and then further onto 15s would be the ultimate goal."
Nott has returned from the country championships where she saw cause for optimism with the under-16 age group exploding in team numbers.
Keeping the sport alive had to be the key.
"Otherwise in years to come there's not going to be coaches around or players around who are ready to pull girls through those ranks and hopefully progress them into rep footy," she said.
"It's like any sport where you have phases where everyone wants to play all at once and then five years later you have so many players.
"Then the next five years after that they dwindle."
As a way to gather more interest, Mid North Coast rugby has included three gala days in the revised LNC women's draw.
These will be held on May 29 at Wauchope, July 10 at Nabiac and August 7 at Taree with Port Macquarie teams to be invited to attend the gala.
There were five sides in last year's women's 10s competition, the three remaining combinations along with Gloucester and Old Bar.
"As long as I can keep my girls happy and keep them on the field and try and get them through rep programs as well hopefully in the years to come we'll pick up those numbers," Nott said.
Old Bar president Brian Groughan said earlier a number of the 2020 women's roster intend to play rugby league later this year.
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