The theory is you need to lose one to win one, and the NSW Country Eagles will be testing that hypothesis in 2017.
After falling one win short of the title last season, the Eagles still look like a threatening side ahead of their opening clash this season.
As well as having a handful of Waratahs, their club contingent proved crucial last year and again they have grabbed hold of some of the most impressive Shute Shield players going around.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR?
The Eagles dominated for most of the 2016 season, earning the right to host the Perth Spirit in Tamworth in the final, a spot close to many of their hearts.
It wasn’t to be in the end, though, with the Country team falling at the final hurdle in a thrilling conclusion to the season.
MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER
He’s no big-name Wallabies star but Tayler Adams has plenty of responsibility in this Eagles outfit, and as its only specialist flyhalf, he looms as crucial to their year. Adams had a standout year in the Shute Shield, winning the Ken Catchpole Medal as the best player in the competition. Coach Darren Coleman has handed him a huge show of faith. If he can repay that, Australia’s flyhalf stocks might add another to their crew.
Alex Newsome is back in his home state and the former Force outside back will bring some X-factor to the Eagles, in an already relatively stacked backline. Newsome showed some sensational finishing skills in Super Rugby and if he can replicate those, he’ll be racking up the points.
Sam Ward has had an impressive season with Warringah, amid incredible family hardship, and will be one to watch as well.
The NSW Country Eagles were the best side for most of 2016 and they’ll be hard to stop again in 2017, with another impressive lineup.
They'll have a target on their back this season and how they handle that will be the ultimate proof of their championship credentials.