The COVID shortened season saw arch rivals Gundagai and Tumut battle it out for supremacy and the pair shape to be among those to beat again in 2021 but will the return of a more regular length season see someone else step up?
While things still aren't at the pre-COVID normal, with Cootamundra not applying to take part and Junee not fielding a first grade side, the return to a longer season will benefit clubs with depth with plenty of football to be played between now and September.
Young were the big improver and shape as the fresh face on the scene after just four clubs, Gundagai, Tumut, Southcity and Albury have won the last 11 titles.
The fortunes of the three Wagga clubs are another big talking point with their three varied approaches while Temora and Albury are looking to fire back up the ladder after not taking part last season.
Coach: Nathan Rose (second season)
Last season: Fifth
Key gains: Trent Schubach, Daniel Foley, Pat Guthrie, Pat Sweeney, Jarom Vakarewakobau Connor McCauley, Brody Tracey, Tim Hurst and Tim Jones
Key losses: Josh Siegwalt, Tyson Hodge
What the coach says: We've had a pretty good pre-season and obviously we've got a fair few new combinations but we've got our game plan and from our first game we just want to improve off that. We want to have a simple game plan and try to execute that.
What we say: The Bulls took a different approach to the other clubs who took part last season. It didn't come off as they missed the finals for the first time in a decade. However after a string of four grand final appearances, for two premierships, the Bulls still have plenty of talent. They've had a number of players return to the club as well as some new faces. Having Daniel Foley on board only adds to their impressive strike weapons led by captain-coach Nathan Rose however a lack of size following the departure of Tyson Hodge could make a big difference against other title contenders.
Coach: Nick Hall (second season)
Last season: Third
Key gains: Mitch, Tyler and Ben Cornish, Ben McAlpine
Key losses: Mick, Joe and Ben Picker, Tom Jenkins, Josh McCrone, Mick Dodson, Josh Ayers, John Grant
What the coach says: I think we are going to be similar to last year in terms of we are going to be competitive. All sides are going to say they need an ounce of luck with injuries and for things to go their way and that's us as well but I think on our day we are going to be competitive.
What we say: Young shaped as the big improvers last season and were just that after a slow start. This time around they've replaced a trio of Picker brothers, two with NRL experience, with a trio of Cornish brothers, two with NRL experience, and it feels like a better fit for the club. They've lost some experienced faces from last season but their depth is another boost for their chances. The Cherrypickers couldn't match it with the top two sides last season with will benefit from more time together this season as they push to end their premiership drought.
Coach: Simon Woolford (first season)
Last season: Sixth
Key gains: Luke Ingram and Tyler Jones, Noa Fotu, Brayden Sharrock, Chris Maher, Dakota Ruta, James Strickland, Ritchie Herangi
Key losses: Hayden Ashcroft, Jordan Coleman, Nick Baker (injury), Hamish Starr
What the coach says: I couldn't have asked more much from our pre-season. We've got through the trials relatively unscathed in terms of long term or major injuries so I think things are set up for us to have a successful year. Hopefully we can get a bit of luck with injuries along the way and if we do that I think we'll have a good year.
What we say: Shape to be the big improvers this season but after just one win in the shortened season last year by how much is the big question. Kangaroos have brought in plenty of fresh faces under new coach Simon Woolford, and have scored some good trial wins, but how a new-look team gels compared to some of their more tested rivals is a concern. As too is where their points come from. Kangaroos were competitive in most of their games last season and with better depth now can move up the ladder.
Coaches: Lachlan Bristow (second season) and Zac Masters (first season)
Last season: Grand finalists
Key gains: Ron Leapai, Mitch Ivill, Fetongi Tuinauvai, Kabati Matanakilagi, Phil Shaw, Tom Hickson
Key losses: Jacob Sturt, Dean Bristow, Austin McDougall, Michael Fenn, Connor Massen, Matt Richards, Jake McGrath
What the coaches say: (Lachlan Bristow) I'm very keen to get a full season away but it is going to be tough with a fair few teams in it. Everyone has recruited well so it is going to be hard. We've lost a few key players but the core group is still around and we know how to win so hopefully we will be thereabouts.
What we say: Led the way for most of the season but their premiership defence unraveled in the most important game of the season. Once again the Blues have plenty of turnover, and while they've added some quality, depth could be an issue as they look to go one better.
Coach: Josh McCrone and Chris Wallace (first season)
Last season: Did not play
Key gains: Josh McCrone, Luke Skidmore, Jai Doherty, Jaiden Burke, Nick Trevaskis, Dawson Nanai
Key losses: Sam Elwin (injury), Joshua Nani, Zach Starr, Sipa Korken
What the coaches say: (Josh McCrone) It's a bit of an unknown as I only played four teams last year but in our first year back after a year off I'm trying to build a bit of culture and get people enjoying their footy in Temora again and hopefully that develops into a winning culture for us. I'm excited about the numbers we've got at training and the quality we've got.
What we say: After electing to sit out last season, the Dragons are looking to get things back on track. The club hasn't played finals in over decade but the return of Josh McCrone will be a big boost in making more sustainable success. They were close to the mark in their last season and should prove to be competitive again.
Coach: Luke Berkrey and Jarrod Crane (first season)
Last season: Premiers
Key gains: Ryan McQueen
Key losses: Mathew Lyons, Damian Willis, Seb Cottam
What the coaches say: (Luke Berkrey) We're certainly excited for 2021. We haven't thought that deep into it and have just been taking each training run as it comes. We've got a strong squad and it is a huge year for the club and as a playing group we can't get wrapped up in it and have to be out there winning games.
What we say: The cream rose to the top with an outstanding grand final performance to make it two premierships in three seasons. It is a big year for the club and it would take a brave pundit to suggest the Tigers won't be fighting it out for the title in their centenary season. While Mathew Lyons will be a huge loss, Gundagai have picked up a pretty handy replacement in Ryan McQueen and there is plenty of experience in the side.
Coach: Adrian Purtell (third season)
Last season: Did not play
Key gains:James Olds, Harry Reicher, Ty Fletcher
Key losses: James Girdler, Jon Huggett, Liam Wiscombe, Brad Nicholson, Matt Byatt, Luke Ingram
What the coach says: There has been a fair bit of moment but we're just looking forward to getting a game of footy in. There is going to be a good opportunity for some local, young guys to get some regular first grade and we're just grateful we are back in the competition
What we say: Albury have probably been the hardest hit by COVID with plans for their improved side last season unravelling before they were unable to take their place. They've had plenty of losses from their last line up with the quality the biggest concern. It shapes as a tough season on the border as they look to rely on their young talent, which could pay off in the future.
Coach: James Hay and Brodie Rigg (first season)
Last season: Fourth
Key gains: Seb Cottam, Josh Siegwalt, Tomasi Baravilala, Rhys Weldon, Darryl Charles, Sam Macklan, Tristan Dickson, Billy Sainsbury, Laurie Bamblett
Key losses: Dylan McLachlan, Cameron Breust, Hayden Philp, Connor McCauley, Brayden Sharrock, Tyson McLachlan, Jordan Little, Liam Carey, Aaron Wynne, Jackson Newling, Nick Hay, Chris Maher, Maleke Morris
What the coaches say: (James Hay) Although we've got a lot of new players a lot of the boys have played together knockout footy together or are mates so it's not like we've got 30 completely new players. We're getting good numbers to train and keep training hard, which is what you expect from a competitive first grade team around here. A lot of players are going to get an opportunity. We're looking to try to start something that is not for just this season with a lot of our players locked in for a couple of seasons.
What we say: Brothers looked to be on the verge of finally breaking through to reach the next stage of the competition but have had a disasterous off season. The Wagga club is virtually starting from scratch with the majority of their side from last season no longer with the club. They're brought players to try to address the issue but it could be a tough year.