WINNING a premiership in any sport is hard work and retaining it is twice as hard, and that is the challenge facing the Forster-Tuncurry Dolphins Rugby Union club.
The Dolphins won last year's Lower Mid North Coast rugby premiership for the third time in six seasons, eclipsing the Manning River Ratz in the grand final, 37-12, and they began preparations for the new season last night under trainer John Hassett.
This has all the makings of a demanding winter for the Dolphins. They have already lost their outstanding scrum base combination with the co-club captains, halfback Tim Chilton and No 8 Ryan Scott, both having left the area, Chilton for the Far North Coast and Scott for Newcastle.
There is no question new blood will be needed.
Training will take place each Tuesday and Thursday from 6pm with the immediate objective the preparation for the Dolphins' annual Super 10s carnival, which will be held on March 1.
The premiership competition will again consist of three rounds between six clubs with the reformed Old Bar Clams replacing the Harrington Hurricanes.
The competition kicks off on May 3 with the grand final to be played on September 20.
The Dolphins play last year's finalists, the Gloucester Cockies, in the first premiership round at Tuncurry; Old Bar host the Ratz at Old Bar; and the Wallamba Bulls play the Myall Coast Mudcrabs at Nabiac.