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Ryde-Eastwood Hawks are “jumping out of their skin” to get back on the field as Sydney Shield reigning premiers, according to assistant coach Michael Frain.

The Hawks will open their premiership defence against Hills District Bulls at TG Millner Field, Marsfield on Sunday 19 July. The Sydney Shield will involve nine teams this season over nine rounds with the Grand Final to be played on the weekend of September 26-27.

“They know they’ll be hunted this year,” Frain told NSWRL.com.au.

“Everyone wants to beat the premiers, so they’ll be ready for that.

“Every team is going to be different from pre COVID-19 to post COVID-19 but we’re confident we’ll be able to match it.”

In 2019, the Hawks finished the regular season in fourth position before going on to win their first premiership in the Sydney Shield after defeating Cabramatta Two Blues 22-12 in the Grand Final.

With their sights set on maintaining their good form in 2020, all players have maintained individual training schedules during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

Their fitness and playing capabilities have impressed both head coach Walt Wilson and Frain after they returned for regular training at the start of the month.

“During the break they all had individual programs to use by themselves and since we’ve been back in the last month, they’ve come back really well.” Frain said.

“We’ll be ready to go.”