Coach: Greg Smith
Last season: Ninth
Gains: Matthew Fisher, Jay Richley (South Cardiff), Mitchell Henry (overseas, not confirmed), Will Pryce (Sydney)
Losses: Shane Paul, Joel Grenell (Phoenix), Mitchell Johnson (retired)
Bottom line: The signing of former Sydney Olympic player Greg Smith to the coaching helm is a major coup for Azzurri. Smith comes to the club with an impressive coaching resume including four straight championships with Hamilton Olympic from 1998 to 2001. After coaching Warners Bay in the inter-districts twos, Smith will be hungry to return to top-flight competition and should inject fresh ideas into Azzurri's young side. The club enjoyed a consistent pre-season, recording two wins, one loss and a draw.
Coach: Peter McGuinness
Last season: Fifth
Gains: Doug West (Hamilton), Benn Lane (New Lambton), Joel Wood, Aran Tidy (Lake Macquarie), Mason Palmieri (Sydney United), Ryan Smith (Phoenix), Brad Waters (Toronto), Nick Harman (injury)
Losses: Chris Brown (Toronto), John Majurovski (Lake Macquarie)
Bottom line: After recruiting strongly and beginning the season in style, expect the Magic to figure in top-four calculations come September. New coach Peter McGuinness joins the club from Lake Macquarie and brings with him a proven track record, which includes the 2006 state league championship and last year's minor premiership. Major recruit Joel Wood should shine in 2008 after spending the summer training with the Jets. Doug West is also expected to revel in the move from Hamilton. An undefeated run in pre-season has created high hopes.
Co-coaches: Gary Wilson and Robert Jovanovski
Last season: Fourth
Gains: Mark Wilson (Phoenix), Luke Lawless (Adamstown), Mitchell Cook, Glenn Moore (Toronto), Brad Tait (Lake Macquarie), Aaron McLoughlin (Azzurri), Blair Newham (Olympic), Paul Wheeler (Phoenix), Craig Carter (Adamstown)
Losses: Peter Juchniewicz, Keegan Wolfenden, Chris Berlin, Josh Birch, Murray Fletcher (Hamilton)
Bottom line: After 15 years of playing for the Eagles, Gary Wilson tries his hand at coaching this season along with fellow former player Robert Jovanovski. The duo will be relying on youth to mature quickly with up to six under-18 players expected in first grade this weekend against Hamilton Olympic. Paul Wheeler, Glenn Moore and Mark Wilson will be the backbone of the Eagles. Injuries to this trio could test the experience of the squad.
Coach: Bobby Naumov
Last season: First
Gains: Peter Juchniewicz, Keegan Wolfenden, Chris Berlin, Murray Fletcher, Josh Birch (Edgeworth), Ben Hughes, Adam Davidson (Lake Macquarie), Daniel Casarellio (Adamstown)
Losses: Doug West (Broadmeadow), Daniel Ciarrocchi, Aaron Thompson (Phoenix), Jason Hoffman (Jets), Denis Fajkovic (Lake Macquarie), Paul Devine (retired).
Bottom line: The defending premiers have opened up the purse strings and spent big, but that has not equated to pre-season results. The pressure is on new coach Bobby Naumov. He went on a heavy recruitment drive in the off-season and netted five players from his former club, Edgeworth, including four-time state league leading goalscorer Peter Juchniewicz. Matt Bingley and Mat Austin give the side plenty of class and they will again be ones to watch this season.
Coach: Kean Marshall
Last season: Second
Gains: Tony Majurovski (Azzurri), John Majurovski (Broadmeadow), Rob Askew (South Cardiff), Jarred Ross (Edgeworth), Zac Handley (Toronto), Daniel Clemons (Coffs Harbour), Steven Bogdanovski (Adamstown), Brady Randall (South Cardiff)
Losses: Joel Wood (Broadmeadow) Ben Hughes, Adam Davidson (Hamilton), Danny Burt (Beresfield), Ben McNamara (Jets), Brad Tait (Edgeworth), Glen Kolpak (West Wallsend)
Bottom line: The pressure will be on the Roosters strikers to keep the goals coming as the defence is looking highly inexperienced. But new coach Kean Marshall will bring plenty to the club after cutting his teeth with the NSW Institute of Sport working under Jets assistant Mark Jones. Marshall will look to last year's state league player of the year and former Socceroo Sean Babic to lead the attack along with brothers Tony and John Majurovski. Lake Macquarie have managed only one win from four pre-season games. Solid early season form is needed to build confidence in the side.
Coach: Mick Bolch
Last season: Third
Gains: Joel Grenell, Shane Paul, Matt Pratt (Azzurri), Aaron Thompson, Daniel Ciarrocchi (Hamilton), Clayton Poole (Edgeworth), Joel and Luke Shearer (Adamstown), Brad Davies (Valentine Belmont), Nathan Conglaves (Sydney)
Losses: Mark Wilson, Paul Wheeler, David Franze (Edgeworth), Ryan Smith (Broadmeadow), Geoff Gillard (work), Mitch Olsen (Cessnock).
Bottom line: The merger of Phoenix and first-division side Valentine Belmont has created a more professional club off the pitch and it has allowed the cheque book to open. Valentine junior Clayton Poole returns home and his goalscoring abilities will be a major plus. He has already slotted four goals in Phoenix's President's Cup campaign. Daniel Ciarrocchi is another major acquisition along with defensive duo Joel Grenell and Aaron Thompson. Last season was the club's second in the top grade and the first in the semi-finals. Expect Phoenix in the top four again in 2008.
Coach: Chris Miner
Finish last season: Sixth
Gains: Jamie Subat (Toronto)
Losses: Craig Atkins (retired), Ryan Clarke (Toronto), Robbie True (Mayfield), Brady Randall (Lake Macquarie), Matthew Fisher (Azzurri).
Bottom line: Coach Chris Miner has placed his faith in South Cardiff's junior system with only one major signing during the off-season in striker Jamie Subat. The loss of experienced players Craig Atkins and Robbie True has left the squad with only two players over 25. Eighteen-year-old Mitchell Bath was expected to join the losses list after moving to Marconi, but the talented striker has returned home. Goalkeepers Mark Wright and Kyle Macorig, who is trialling with the Jets, will provide Miner with plenty of options in defence. The loss of three points for fielding a suspended player was the only thing stopping South Cardiff from reaching the finals in 2007 and they will be in the mix again this season.
Coach: Troy Halpin
Last season: Eighth
Gains: Linkon Knott, Paul Maroney (Weston), Ryan Clarke (South Cardiff), Chris Brown (Broadmeadow), Peter Becklar (overseas), Andrew Myles, Anthony Piazza, Matthew March (Central Coast Lightning).
Losses: Glenn Moore (Edgeworth), Scott Thomas (Canterbury), Ricky Metcalfe (Wollongong).
Bottom line: Toronto Awaba will be hoping for stability this season after 2007 saw the Stags use four different coaches in the space of six months. Another new coach in Troy Halpin has taken over this year. Halpin's assistant, Darren Northern, has attracted three players with him from the Central Coast Lightning to boost the backs. New signings Andrew Myles and Linkon Knott look promising and should add plenty of speed to the Stags. Much will depend on Halpin's ability to gel his young team together.
Coach: Michael Boogaard
Last season: Seventh
Losses: Shane Johnston, Luke Walker (Central Coast Lightning), Linkon Knott (Weston)
Bottom line: The Bears will be sticking with a familiar formula this season with no new blood. However, midfielder David Mudd will return to the pitch after missing the majority of the season after a knee reconstruction. Captain Chris Cousins along with striker Michael Ryan will need to fire for the Bears to compete with the likes of Hamilton, Broadmeadow and Phoenix. Pre-season form has been promising with one win, two draws and a loss, but it is unlikely Weston will make an impact in August.
Coach: Stuart McAteer
Last season: First division minor premiers
Gains: Glen Kolpak (Lake Macquarie), Jacob Bailey (Edgeworth), Kendric Prince (Adamstown)
Losses: Peter and Scott McPherson (overseas)
Bottom line: The new boys on the block will find it tough in the step up to the big league. They were undefeated in last season's first division competition and deserved promotion. It has not proven as easy for West Wallsend in the President's Cup, going down in all four games. But signs of improvement were seen last weekend with a 3-2 trial win over Hamilton. Rookie coach Stuart McAteer will need to use all the national league experience of Antony Surjan and Todd McManus.