Maitland Blacks coach Matt Thomas will base a major rebuild of his squad around talented fly-half Pat Batey and NSW Country tight-head prop Harry Chapman.
The two young guns and 2019 Anderson Medal winner Travis Brooke will form the leadership group of what will be an emerging team with plenty of youth.
A combination of retirements, overseas commitments, club transfers and a return to league has seen an exodus of players from last year's starting first grade team.
"We've probably lost three-quarters of last year's team," Thomas said. "It is going to be a real hard building year.
"I think it's probably what the club needs, a bit of a clean out."
Leading the departures are former skippers Michael Howell and Carl Manu.
Howell and Dan Runchel are retiring, Manu and his brother Devante have switched to University, Marcus Christensen is going back to play with his brother at Wanderers and Josh McCormack is having a season off.
Among the younger ranks Dale Clacherty, Chris Martin and Pat Robards are teaming up at Beresfield in a return to rugby league, Lachy Bradford and Sam Parkinson are playing in Sydney and Max Stafford is undecided about whether he will play or not.
In addition Chris Logan will have an interrupted season with commitments overseas at various stages.
"This is a great opportunity for a lot of the second grade players we brought up through first grade last year to step up and play regular first grade," Thomas said.
"I think Pat Batey will have a big year, he is getting over a lot of injuries he suffered last year. We will be looking for him to lead. Harry Chapman will step up and take a leadership role."
Thomas said the squad rebuild would be a combination of players earning promotion and recruiting.
"For the younger players if they want to have a crack at reaching higher levels that's the pathway," Thomas said.
"We just need to keep focusing on what we've got and anybody who wants to come and try rugby, play rugby and have a crack with Maitland there are opportunities and the doors are wide open."
The Blacks resume training on Tuesday, January 21, from 6pm, and Thomas has invited all prospective players to attend.