The Super Rugby season has jumped on me too quickly this year.
I’m not yet in rugby mood, but still we have our first Super Rugby game in three weeks’ time.
Either way, the transfer period is done and dusted. Those of you that expected a marquee signing or two at the Stormers will be disappointed to learn that they have not made any additions to their squad this year.
The other South African franchises, though, have been busy and the general feeling I get from this off season is that 2020 will be a year of emotional farewells.
Just look at our friends over at Loftus Versfeld.
With Handre Pollard having left South Africa to earn bigger overseas, Bulls coach Pote Human brought back 35-year-old crowd favourite Morne Steyn for his swansong.
Steyn will in all likelihood spend most of his time on the bench this year, with Manie Libbok running the show at flyhalf.
But with the former Springbok pivot watching on, Libbok’s game will be taken to the next level and for this reason Steyn’s signing is a good one.
The same goes for lock Juandre Kruger, who has also re-signed for the Loftus franchise from Toulon in France.
Then with Springbok yster Duane Vermeulen having left for Japan, the Bulls decided to sign ex-Lions leader Josh Strauss, 33, as his replacement.
Strauss left South Africa to become a Scotland international and returns with a point to prove.
So while Loftus might look like an aftree-oord this year, it is clear that they are building on the future and using experienced guys to help them through the transition period.
A klipgooi away from Loftus, Ellis Park will play host to a much-changed Lions team this year.
Their biggest signing during the off-season is without doubt ex-Springbok and Sharks tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis. The 37-year-old front rower returns from Montpellier in France.
Also watch out for Roelof Smit, who signed from the Bulls.
After signing for the trans- Jukskei rivals, Smit took a swipe at the Bulls saying hulle het hom stief behandel.
At 27, the flanker is in his prime and has a point to prove.
Off to Kings Park and it’s here where the most business took place during the off-season.
The Sharks have lost a number of players - think the Du Preez brothers, Robert, Dan and Jean-Luc.
Add Bok legend Beast Mtawarira and international front rankers Coenie Oosthuizen and Akker van der Merwe to the mix and it’s clear that they have lost a lot of experience.
The Durbanites could so easily have decided to replace these men with overseas players looking for a final pay pakkie in South Africa.
They decided not to do this and instead looked for stars who are in need of a breakthrough.
Ex-Stormer Sikhumbuzo Notshe is one of them.
The Springbok looseforward got frustrated with game time in the Mother City and went to Durban in search of more time on the park.
He will get it this year and personally, I am excited to see what Notshe can dish up in Durban.
Ex-Cheetahs prop Ox Nche is another that joined the Sharks at the start of the new season.
Nche has been one of the standout performers for the Cheetahs in recent seasons, but with the Bloemfontein franchise not playing Super Rugby fans hardly ever got a look at him.
If he can emulate his Cheetahs performances for the Sharks, Nche will be knocking hard on the Bok door this year.
Closer to home, coach John Dobson has not made any new signings for the Stormers this year.
They have signed their stars to new contracts which is a big boost post-World Cup.
Looking at all the squads, I believe the Stormers have the strongest squad this year, despite not having any additions.
What I am interested in seeing in 2020 is breakthrough stars.
Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies had a big 2019 and I believe this can be the year of Juarno Augustus.
I waited for him last year as well, but injury halted the progress of 2017 World Rugby Junior Player of the Year.
With Notshe having left for the Sharks, Augustus will know that if he stays fit, he might get regular game time.
Another player that will be looking for a big year is lock Salmaan Moerat.
Looking at the bigger picture, I believe Super Rugby has lost its star power.
In New Zealand and Australia, too, a number of guys have left their teams short on quality and big names and the tournament will be weaker for it.
So while we might not be in for the most exciting season in terms of quality of rugby, it will be one where new stars are born and old ones flicker for the final time...