This is how the teams have shaped up for the 2019 Herald Women's Premier League:
Coach: Paul Devitis. Last season: Finished last. Squad news: Rosebud have lost a ton of experience with Clare Cummings, Tayla Gregory, Olivia Trinka, Lauren Allan and Kate Lindsay all departing. They have picked up midfielder Jess Terry, who was an over-age player in Mid North Coast's 20s last year, and former Emerging Jets defender Isabel Lauina, back playing after a four-year absence. Midfielder Elodie Dagg has been consistently strong for Adamstown in recent seasons and will be key to any success. Expect her to combine well with Terry. Bottom line: They are in a rebuilding phase and it will be a tough ask to finish in the top four, but expect some upsets before the year is out.
Coach: Cassandra Koppen. Last season: Finished second, won grand final. Squad news: Lori Depczynski and Leticia Quinlan, both integral to the club's three championships in the past four seasons, are not playing but United have welcomed back midfield lynchpin Jane McDonald from a year out. Other key signings are American Katy Gray, former Mid North Coast striker Courtney Anderson and Georgia Minors from Wallsend. They retain strike weapons Leah Giuffre and Melbourne City's Rhali Dobson and the presence of goalkeeper Alison Logue, along with a back three of Jamee Ellis, Sarah Hartree and Nicki Jones, makes for arguably the best defence in the league. Bottom line: It will be a tougher task to finish top two but they will make finals and continue to be a heavyweight.
Mid North Coast
Coach: Michael Grass. Last season: Did not play. Squad news: Nineteen-year-old Sam Bestwick returns to captain this young side after a year out. Also back from a season off are striker Abbi Watson and former Emerging Jets winger Layni Fens. The rest of the squad are mostly made up last year's beaten grand finalists in the 20s competition. Bottom line: They gave a good account of themselves at the Women's State Cup last year but whether a side that does not have a player over the age of 20 can lift to the intensity of first grade in a 21-round competition will be the test. Unlikely to see them come finals time but, if sides of the past are anything to go by, teams can expect a hostile reception when they are at home.
Coach: Keelan Hamilton. Last season: Finished third, lost semi-finals. Squad news: The Eagles' biggest loss has been former Matilda Joey Burgess to injury but they have picked up handy acquisitions in goalkeeper Imogene Tomasone and midfielder Sophie Jones, who did not play last year. Steely defender Toria Campbell and strike weapon Lauren Allan are also on board. Expect to see Allan form a strong combination with Jets striker Tara Andrews and for another solid season from former W-League defender Stacey Day. Bottom line: They announced their arrival last year by making finals and with the signings they have made will feature again. Tomasone is a game-changer and expect Allan to cause some damage in her first full season after wreaking havoc in short cameos for Adamstown in the past four years.
Coach: Cas Wright. Last season: Finished fourth, lost semi-finals. Squad news: They have picked up former Young Matildas Kobie Ferguson, Ashlee Brodigan and Kirstyn Antoni (nee Pearce). They join key players Gemma Harrison, Sass Seaborn, Erin Wilson and current Matilda Gema Simon, who is expected to play again. They have lost former W-League players Alesha Clifford and Olivia Kennedy to the Red Devils and midfielder Beth Kermode to a season off. Bottom line: After a first finals appearance, Southy look set to be there again and potentially go one step further. The biggest problem forseeable for Wright appears a weekly selection headache.
Coach: Alan Primmer. Last season: Withdrew midway through the competition. Squad news: The Redbacks will be a very young side led by defender Anais Moore, who is part of a crop of the club's next generation. Long-term players Luci Maddison, Grace Harvey, Susan Randall and Marni Richardson have returned and Primmer expects 17-year-old Kirstie Power-Walford, Ainsleigh Childs and Jasmyn Hughes to make an impression at some stage. Bottom line: It is going to be a long season and they won't make finals but if this young side can stick tight and keep their heads up they will be better for the experience in coming years.
Coach: Brad Jones. Last season: Finished fifth. Squad news: Midfielder Libby Copus-Brown returns to the Red Devils after a breakout W-League with the Jets and has plenty of support around her this season with the acquisitions of Olivia Kennedy and Alesha Clifford from South Wallsend. The squad looks a good balance of youth and experience. Laura Hall revelled in her move to striker last season and should be a stand-out again. Captain Sophie O'Brien bleeds for the club and will play a key role from the back. Bottom line: A much stronger side than last year, they will state a strong case for a return to finals football. But they are up against some big players in the league and this may not be their year.
Coach: Antonio Ambrogetti. Last season: Minor premiers, lost grand final. Squad news: They have lost Gabi Deacon to South Wallsend, Corinne Krupa to injury and Toria Campbell to the Eagles and are banking on the development of some of their 20s players to fill the void. They have plenty of talent and experience in W-League Jets players Cassidy Davis and Jenna Kingsley, who combined for 42 of their 64 goals last year, as well as midfielders Nadja Squires and Tara Pender. Bottom line: They retain the core of a squad which captured back-to-back minor premierships and have made three grand final appearances in a row. Attack is no problem but defence may be a weakness. Still hard to see them not being a top-two side.
While you're with us the Newcastle Herald is offering sport readers 20% off an annual digital subscription. Sign up to stay up to date with all the local sports you love. Terms and conditions apply.