It's the end of an era. This will be the first ABL season Michael Collins will be missing from the Canberra Cavalry dugout.
He spent the first two seasons there as a player, the next six as manager and last summer as an assistant coach.
But Cavalry boss Donn McMichael is confident manager Keith Ward is ready to take the helm on his own.
McMichael also felt Collins would still be involved in his home-town club going forward, having played a role in the Cavalry's partnership with the Houston Astros.
Collins led the ABL batting averages when it reformed in 2010-11 before leading Canberra to their first ever Claxton Shield when he took over the management.
He also led them to the Asia Series title before stepping back his role due to his commitments as the Astros bullpen catcher, where he helped them to a spot in this year's World Series.
Now Ward will run the show without Collins' input, with Felipe Blanco his assistant and Lee Mills as a player-coach.
"He's chosen for the first time since he's left to have a Christmas at home with his in laws," McMichael said.
"Which is disappointing for us because he brings so much to the table.
"But it's time we moved on. We need to continue to grow and last year Keith did a great job as the manager and now Keith's very much ready for the task."
MORE CANBERRA SPORT
The Cavalrymen are filtering into Canberra ahead of their opening game of the season against the Melbourne Aces at Narrabundah Ballpark next Thursday.
But first they'll have three pre-season games at the Fort - two against arch-rivals Sydney Blue Sox on Saturday and the one against Korean team SK Wyverns on Sunday.
The Wyverns are in the middle of a development camp based at Narrabundah.
McMichael said they'll be close to full strength, although their Australian players - Steve Kent, David Kandilas, Dushan Ruzic and Robbie Perkins - will still be in Japan, while their Yokohama players will only arrive on the weekend and probably get rested.
"We're expecting everyone else to be ready to go," he said.
"It will be a full-scale game, but there will be people on and off, on and off.
"More than just stand-out players, I think we've got general depth, which is where the strength will be as opposed to individuals.
"We've filled positions with solid players. We're looking for more of a team rather than individuals performance - although [Gavin] Cecchini will be a star when he gets here."
While the Cavalry won't get their national team players back until a day or two before the ABL season starts, McMichael said their Premier12 campaign in Japan would be the perfect preparation.
Perkins will likely be Canberra's first-choice catcher, while Kandilas will form an important part of the batting line-up.
Kent and Ruzic could both be starting pitchers.
They're all part of an Australian team that faces Taipei on Saturday with a spot in the bronze-medal game on the line.
If Australia makes that, they could qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.
"It's invaluable for them. It gives them a really good hitout and they've been in camp for about three weeks," McMichael said.
"We're missing four players, but Brisbane are missing eight or nine players so it works for all teams."
Saturday: Canberra Cavalry v Sydney Blue Sox at Narrabundah Ballpark, 5pm and 7pm. Free entry.
Sunday: Canberra Cavalry v SK Wyverns at Narrabundah Ballpark, 3pm. Free entry.