Expect an extra week to make a lot of difference when it comes to the standard of this year's national provincial championship.
With teams now having to front for three matches in eight days once instead of twice, the coaches might actually get to do a bit more coaching, the players should have a bit more time to recover and we might even see a variety of tactics used.
It could even mean more teams may have a chance of stopping Canterbury making it a record six NPC titles in a row.
Most fans around the country will hope so, anyway.
Common sense would suggest there is probably only a couple of teams capable of making that happen, although Taranaki would argue they should make it three, given they were only a conversion away from knocking the red and blacks out of the playoffs last year.
Wellington and Auckland shape up as Canterbury's stiffest competition, especially if Wellington can find a solution to their late-season jitters that usually stop them from performing when the playoffs roll around.
Although they will be a bit short of personnel early, Wellington have an array of players any coach would welcome.
Auckland's young men should also have learnt a bit from last year's competition and will benefit greatly with the availability of axed All Blacks halfback Piri Weepu.
Auckland coach Wayne Pivac also knows how to win the NPC, something that no other coach in the premiership can claim.
Waikato's chances of keeping the Ranfurly Shield for the season look slim, especially if they don't improve dramatically from their pre-season outings.
Still, they have Chiefs players Ben Tameifuna, Toby Smith and Matt Vant Leven while Jack Lam will contribute heaps if he remains fit.
Counties Manukau will cause most teams plenty of problems, especially if their forwards can match up to opposition packs.
They will also provide a tough physical test and not many teams will be looking forward to going to Pukekohe.
The arrival of former All Blacks hooker Hika Elliot at least gives the tight five a real boost.
Taranaki might find it hard to replace some of their experienced players but they will not lack for confidence.
They still have plenty of firepower and the likes of Kurt Baker, Andre Taylor and Waisake Naholo can stretch any defence.
Bay of Plenty look favourites to be relegated from the premiership, although they usually go well when they have been written off.
The championship division looks an even competition, with Hawke's Bay and Otago the early favourites.
As always, it will pay to check the draw, with crossover matches and a variety of kickoff times likely to surprise the average armchair supporter.
- © Fairfax NZ News