Back-to-back New England Rugby Union premiers Robb College will be the last club to hit the training paddock in preparation for the 2020 season.
Students are not expected to return until early July, which means the university club will have less than one month to get set for their round one clash with the Armidale Blues on July 25.
David McCathie has taken on the solo coaching gig after sharing the honour alongside Sam Ditchfield over the last two seasons.
He said players have indicated interest in taking the field for the club in the first, second and women's sevens competitions when they return.
"We will field the three teams but we will be off to a slow start because college isn't officially opened yet so we will be ready when we are ready," McCathie said.
McCathie and the Robb coaching group won't be easing the players into the short pre-season, aiming to have them hit the ground running as soon as they're back on the park.
"It will be pretty much the same as it always is, we will get them back when they come back and we will work them hard and they will be young and have a bit of vigour about them so it will be fine," he said.
Although the other NERU clubs will have a few weeks' start on the students, McCathie believes the competition will be even across the board.
"It will just be a matter of who can gel the quickest and who has that little bit of underlying fitness which will carry them through because I imagine there will be plenty of mistakes in the back-end of games," he said.
"I think it is great we are playing footy again but it is hard, you've got one round each so you don't have a chance to have an off day.
"You've got to be on your game."
Despite the shortened pre-season and their squad still a bit of an unknown quantity, Robb won't be there just to make up the numbers.
"We want to play in it, we are a rugby club in the New England Zone," McCathie said.
"We are really looking forward this year to defending our title."
New England Rugby accepted the Walcha Rams into this year's competition after the Central North competition folded while Glen Innes expect to field teams across the three grades.
McCathie welcomed the new teams for this season but doesn't believe the William Sawyer Shield should be contested.
"I think it is fantastic if Glen come back but if they come back for just this seven weeks and then don't come back next year than that is a bit of a shame," he said.
"I hope they can entice them and make them stay.
"I personally would rather not see the premiership up for grabs given the influx of a few different teams - let's just play a bit of free-flowing footy and throw the ball around.
"It is going to look a bit silly if they put the premiership up for grabs and Walcha win it and it goes to Central North."