The new Premier Division of rugby in Wales will on the face of it see the nine clubs from last season Premiership and the top seven who were promoted from Division One led by champions Pontypool.
In reality it could be a divided division though the leaders could prove to be Carmarthen Quins, who have announced a squad that, more than any other of the 16 clubs, may be nearest to the one that finished in May.
For eight clubs - Cardiff, Llanelli, Newport, Ebbw Vale, Pontypridd, Bridgend, Swansea and Neath - there will be semi-professional rugby. Division One champions Pontypool are short of players at present; Jason Williams, the top league scorer in Wales' history, is no longer in Newbridge colours and Aberavon are without top-scoring wing Lee Abdul, for whom Cardiff beckoned.
Coach Chris O'Callaghan will show that he is quite capable of bringing through new Wizards if necessary, but he has lost some experienced hands. Another old dog, Mike Watkins, will again look wisely for new faces at Newbridge and Dai Rees has searched for at least four new half backs with Cross Keys and already announced a dozen new signings.
Down at Carmarthen, Peter Elsom will be in control, though hooker Justin Hughes, prop Aled Griffiths, lock Paul Matthews and flanker Danzi Niblo have all gone. They do have two fine scrum halves in Steve Wake and Emyr Jones (who doubles at centre), with past skippers Paul Arnold and Alan Mason both big influences up front.
A new half back combination for Swansea will be Luke Richards and Richie Rees,
the latter previously coached by Tony Clement at Dunvant, while Tony Brown's pledge at Newport should see the Black and Ambers amongst the front-runners as they have some fine young forwards to bring on and bring Dan Griffiths from Whitland in at fly half.
Caerphilly hold many clues to the success and failure of this division and though coach Mark Ring has departed, he is replaced by his former Wales teammate, Roger Bidgood. Among their player departures is talented fly half Luke Richards, yet the club should still fare well enough on the field.Cardiff-Llanelli; Newport-Pontypool and Bridgend-Swansea are among the fascinating opening fixtures and Neath begin by travelling to Llandovery,