Team Northumbria head of Rugby Union Darren Fearn is relishing the challenge that Loughborough will pose when they face off against each other on Wednesday afternoon.
The last time the two sides met, TN produced one of their performances of the season, winning 38-26 in blustery conditions.
And Fearn admitted he was eager to get the season back underway after the festive break.
“We’re really excited,” said Fearn.
“All the lads are looking forward to getting back into it so there’s a real buzz around the place at the minute.
“Loughborough are a university that’s strong across the board.
“They’ve played two games in the build-up to this match in National One, so they certainly won’t be rusty.
“They’ve got some really big ball carriers and some quick boys in the backs so we know we’re going to have give it our best.
“We’ve done our analysis and we know it’s going to be a really big test.”
And with a gap of more than a month since their last game in December, Fearn has paid tribute to the work that has been put in by the TN strength and conditioning staff to ensure that his players are fit and raring to go for their first run out of 2018.
“We gave all the lads programs to follow and to their credit they’ve worked really hard over Christmas,” said Fearn.
“They’ve come back fit and it’s a real credit to the strength and conditioning staff who’ve been really helpful.
“So, in terms of conditioning, I’d definitely say we’re at the races.”
Last term, TN came out of the blocks flying, putting in a number of eye catching displays before a small blip in December knocked them off the top spot.
And Fearn is keen to ensure that his players keep their feet firmly on the ground in 2018 - making sure they take it one game at a time.
“Before Christmas we started to focus on end goals and to be honest I don’t think it helped us,” said a pensive Fearn.
“We’ve come back after the festive break and set ourselves a challenge.
“We have two games in January and we’ve got a target in mind for those two games.
“There are six games left so we’re going to take it week by week starting with Loughborough on Wednesday.”