Ballarat's senior men's rugby union players are on the training track and with their sights on a start to competition.
They have been given a season starting date of July 4.
The Highlanders launched a new pre-season at their home base Doug Dean Reserve on Tuesday night under strict COVID-19 return to play guidelines set down by Rugby Australia and Rugby Victoria.
The club is also moving towards setting up an under-age training scehdule and the formation of a women's team.
Highlanders president Patrick Quigley said he had been most encouraged by the turnout for the return to training.
Eighteen attended the opening session, with another four giving their apologies.
"It was excellent. It exceeded my expectations.
"We're looking at having good numbers," he said.
Quigley is confident head coach Mike Silcock will have a squad of 30 to work with.
The City of Ballarat has approved training times for Tuesdays and Thursdays, with two groups of up to 10 players able to be on the ground at any one time.
Quigley said the players had accepted the training protocols without any hesitation.
"Their attitude's been fantastic."
He said the club had undertaken a comprehensive education program in the lead-up to resumption of training to ensure all players were aware of expectations for the non-contact sessions.
Quigley said there was a real desire among the players to get back into action.
"There's a great vibe. They can't wait."
There's a great vibe. They can't wait."Highanders president Patrick Quigley
Quigley was full of praise for Rugby Australia and Rugby Victoria in getting the game up and going again so quickly.
"Hats off to them. They're ahead of the game," he said.
Rugby Victoria announced that the July 4 start will allow a 14-round home and away season plus finals.
Quigley said while there was a potential for a clash with cricket for use of the Doug Dean Reserve at the end of the season he was sure this could be worked through.
A fixture is still to be released.
The return to training is the first of three phases set down by Rugby Victoria and will be in place until May 31.
Subject to government approval, Rugby Victoria's phase two will then be introduced - allowing up to 20 players in a group and full contact through tackling, rucks, mauls, line-outs and scrums,
Phase three from June 29 includes full team training, full contact and matches.
The Highlanders will also field an under-18 side, having stepped into cover St Patrick's College's departure from the sport, and oversee under-15s.