Springing back into action is the Kingstone Press Championship for another season.
Leigh Centurions surprised many in 2016 by securing promotion through the Qualifiers but will it repeat? Furthermore, who will survive the dogged relegation struggle and who won’t be as fortunate?
Onto the clubs themselves to see who will compete in what by August and how many changes will occur during the division.
Returning into action are the ever-improving Batley Bulldogs after enjoying one of their best seasons to date.
The Bulldogs produced performances of the highest pedigree to surprisingly breach the top four and earning a spot in the Super 8s Qualifiers.
Their impact wasn’t so great but such an experience will be one to remember for the part timers regardless.
They’re back with faces, old and new and will hope for more of the same but will it turn out that way or will they fall short?
After the departure of John Kear, Matt Diskin assumes the helm and his job an obvious one, return Batley to the top four in the hopes of them becoming more competitive with Super League.
Diskin’s first Head Coach Role since his 2014 season at Bradford, and we all know how that turned out.
Nevertheless, he’s back and many may assume he won’t emulate Kear’s heroics but given the resources, it would be difficult not to.
Batley may remain part time, but with their prize money from the Qualifiers, will only improve through their investments.
Such as new faces in Joel Farrell from Dewsbury, Macauley Hallett from Swinton and loanees Tom Holmes, Greg Minikin and Will Maher from Castleford.
Some exciting players there and joining experienced pivots in Dominic Brambani, Pat Walker and Cain Southernwood, Batley’s attacking flare will only increase.
As for their forwards, they may have lost skipper Keegan Hirst, but have retained much of their bolstering pack that will still be a handful for their opposition.
Juggernauts Alex Rowe and Adam Gledhill will continue their ‘go forward’ in 2017.
In addition to possessing interchangeable hookers in Alistair Leek in James Davey, Batley remain a force to be reckoned with in 2017.
Another successful season in store for the Bulldogs that will return them to the Qualifiers.
Promotion remains out of reach but in the near future, perhaps this dream will become more of a reality but for now, the doggies will remain playing fetch.
Man to Watch: Dominic Brambani
Bradford Rugby League
A disappearing act that for once won’t impress many as liquidated Bradford Bulls will return as Bradford Rugby League for 2017.
An utter disaster for one the sport’s more famous clubs, who have to do it all again from ‘scratch’.
That being said, despite a 12 point deduction, they are controversially remaining in the Championship for another season.
Special treatment maybe but Bradford are in for a rough ride in the division regardless.
Given everything wrong at their club, their situation of avoiding League 1 looks bleak as they’ll have a struggle playing catch up with their rivals.
Following Rohan Smith’s decisive departure, Geoff Tovey has been drafted in.
His job is simple, rebuild the team but his job easily rivals that of Sir Alex Ferguson with Manchester United all those years ago.
Sport and situation may differ slightly but it remains as the fallen giants are in need of help.
Many players have already jumped ship but some have remained loyal as it stands and will hope to steer Bradford in the right direction.
Leon Pryce is the key figure who remains at the club, but he seems the only one as it stands as their struggle for personnel is clearly visible.
Others who have remained are Oscar Thomas, Omari Caro and Ethan Ryan as well as a number of youngsters hoping to shine.
Given their deduction and situation, Bradford are in for a season of struggle that will probably result in relegation once more.
It looks imminent and that may result in hidden justice as restarting should usually see a club start in League 1 and not the Championship.
Man to Watch: Leon Pryce
Semi-professionals Dewsbury Rams return for their eighth consecutive season in the Kingstone Press Championship.
Dewsbury endured an average season, easily surviving relegation but far from any silverware.
There to make up the numbers and though they’ll want more, 2017 will deliver a similar season for the Rams.
They still have experience in playing and non-playing personnel, which will be enough to keep them from relegation once more.
But given their limited resources, they will be there to make up the numbers yet again.
Glenn Morrison, Damian Gibson and Wayne Godwin can bring forth exciting rugby from the Rams in 2017.
New signings Robbie Ward, Gareth Potts and Lucas Walshaw are a talented trio and will help in their side’s improvement.
Especially as they join the already established veterans in Paul Sykes and Andy Kain, Dewsbury will definitely show signs of resistance through 2017.
The forward pack too will be mildly impressive; a selection of Tony Tonks, Mitch Stringer, Luke Adamson and Jake Teanby will help in their attack and defence.
However, for anything other than the Championship Shield, it will eventually prove futile as they don’t stand on a level playing field with others in the division.
Dewsbury are capable of shock results, their Cup win over Bradford last year was evident of that but that’s as good as it will get.
Being part time is difficult when competing with others as fatigue levels will catch up sooner.
This will be Dewsbury inevitable downfall in attempting to breach the top four, something they will be far from in 2017.
Their supporters and club staff are perhaps are happy with an achievement of easy survival and contesting the Shield.
This is fair but for now and the near future, Dewsbury will be ‘just another club’ in the Championship, who are in for another average season by all accounts.
Man to Watch: Josh Gudzek
Moving across slightly to one of Calderdale’s favourites, last year’s surprise package in Featherstone Rovers.
The Rovers defeated Bradford in the do or die final round clash to claim a spot in the Super 8s Qualifiers last season.
Here, they were given a reality check as they were whitewashed by their opponents, after a superb Championship campaign that saw them finish as the best defensive side.
Nevertheless, they return and will hope to go one better in 2017 and have more of an impact against their full-time counterparts.
The Rovers have been rather busy in the off-season with new signings.
Luke Briscoe has landed permanently at the club after a successful loan spell and joining him are Richard Moore, Keal Carlile, Michael Knowles, James Duckworth and Frankie Mariano.
Plenty of experience to join a skilful side, who impressed many last season.
Featherstone are in for a similar season that will see them as contenders for the top four.
They owed their robust defence to their success as well as the leadership of pivots Anthony Thackeray and Kyle Briggs.
The success should continue and perhaps some more consistency may show given some more Super League experience has been added to their ranks.
Ball in hand, Featherstone produced some exciting rugby in all areas.
The kicking game of Thackeray was immense on occasions last season as well as the ball handling of Briggs that left some opposition in their wake.
Furthermore, a healthy interchangeable forward pack of Andy Bostock, Darrell Griffin, Moore and Mariano will add further fuel to the fire.
All the signs look positive for Featherstone as they are in store for another successful season.
A return to the Qualifiers is imminent but whether they will make more of an impact looks doubtful.