They may have four successive Principality Premiership titles in their grasp, but 2008 double-winners Neath are taking nothing for granted as they get set to defend their titles this weekend.
Skipper Lee Beach is expecting Principality new boys Pontypool to "go like hell" at The Gnoll on the opening Saturday of the campaign and knows that the following weekend at the infamous 'House of Pain' at Sardis Road, Pontypridd will be seeking revenge for their defeat in the Konica Minolta Cup final.
"The standard of the Principality Premiership is improving every season and we know we are there to be shot at. We are taking nothing for granted - and every game as it comes," explained Wales Sevens star Beach.
"The other sides in the league have all recruited well and we know we are going to have to switch-on at the weekend when Pontypool return to the Premiership. We won't know a lot about them individually, but we all realise they are a club with a huge history and a real desire to return to the top.
"It was great to do the double last season, but we have to put those successes firmly to the back of our minds. We've got what every other team in the Premiership wants and we know that each week is going to be a battle to hold onto our status as champions."
Having run away with the title last season, Beach and his players have noted with interest talk of plans to get the leading Principality Premiership sides to join a cross-border competition with clubs from the English National League 1. That is a prospect that really excites the Neath skipper.
"There are 6-8 clubs in the English First Division who are fully professional and we'd love the chance to measure ourselves against them. We played Plymouth Albion in a pre-season friendly and only just lost by three points in a game we could easily have won," said Beach.
"Moving up to that next level would be a real incentive for the players in Wales and could help improve the standard."
Pontypridd skipper Nathan Strong believes Neath can be caught this season, but knows only too well that it is going to take greater consistency from his side and the others in the chasing pack to overhaul the perennial champions.
"Neath have been successful because of the strength of their squad and their consistency. Those are the two keys to their success and we have to admire them for it," said Strong.
"We have beaten them in the league and cup in recent seasons, but have failed to string together the consistent form required to take the title. We have recruited well and our target is to improve on our third place in the Premiership and runners-up spot in the cup."
As well as a number of new faces across the 14 teams, there are also a few older ones returning. Former Wales wing Craig Morgan is relishing his first trip to Pandy Park in 12 seasons when he returns to the Black and Blue jersey of Cardiff at Cross Keys this weekend, while a number of the Ospreys Grand Slammers will be doing duty with clubs within their region this season - a prospect that is exciting a number of clubs.
"It would be great to line-up alongside Mike Phillips and Sonny Parker in the Aberavon back division this season," said the Wizards' rising young centre Ashley Beck. "Sonny is a great player and I know I'd be able to learn a lot from him."
The 18-year-old Beck made his Magners League debut as a replacement against Brian O'Driscoll's Leinster last season and is being earmarked as the next 'big thing' to come off the Principality Premiership conveyor belt of talent.
Already the Wales team has benefitted from players such as Ian Evans, Alun-Wyn Jones, Richard Hibbard, Chris Czekaj, Jamie Roberts and James Hook being groomed for stardom from within the Principality Premiership. Beck, Dan Biggar and Sam Warbuton are the next wave to come through.
"There is a lot of good young talent across the Premiership and at Swansea we're sure that Dan Biggar is going to make the grade with the Ospreys and beyond. He played for us last season and is already a very accomplished player," said All Whites' skipper Marc Popham.
Principality Premiership Round 1 - Saturday, 6 September
Cross Keys v Cardiff
Ebbw Vale v Bedwas
Llandovery v Bridgend
Llanelli v Glamorgan Wanderers
Neath v Pontypool
Pontypridd v Newport
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