The race to the John I Dent Cup is about to be blown wide open as a raft of Super Rugby AU champions return to bolster the local ranks in the final round.
Eleven ACT Brumbies squad members are set to play in the Canberra competition for the first time this season after the Super Rugby bubble burst following a drought-breaking grand final win.
The majority of the grand final-winning 23 are in Wallabies camp while a handful of others will take another week to freshen up before a potential semi-final comeback.
The arrival of Tom Ross at Gungahlin Eagles training this week has been a welcome sight for a side facing a near must-win scenario against the third-placed Canberra Royals at Phillip Oval on Saturday.
Ross, Mack Hansen and Isaak Fines will boost the Eagles, who already boast Matt Giteau and James Dargaville in a star-studded backline, against a Royals outfit set to welcome back hooker Connal McInerney.
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Gungahlin sit fourth on 21 competition points, level with the Wests Lions in fifth. Wests welcome back Harry Lloyd and Reesjan Pasitoa for a clash with Nick Frost and the Queanbeyan Whites, who are out of premiership contention.
Royals are locked into third on 28 points, while a showdown between Tuggeranong - boosted by Lachlan Lonergan, Darcy Swain, and Ryan Lonergan - and Billy Pollard's Uni-Norths will determine the minor premiers.
"I haven't played with Eagles since last year, I haven't been down to The Nest since January, even December," Ross said.
"It's good to catch up with those blokes I haven't seen pretty much all year. To put the Eagles jersey back on will be pretty special this weekend.
"It's a good game to come back for, the boys are pretty pumped. I popped in on Tuesday to see how they were all going and see what the vibe was. They're pretty keen to get out this weekend and have a crack against Royals.
"The side we've got on paper at Gungahlin, if we put our full potential out there on the field, then we're in a good position to have a crack at the title.
"That'd be nice, that'd be nice. Two in one year, that would be crazy."
Ross laughs he's been into McInerney this week, just "making sure he's not doing any extra weights or anything like that, just looking after the body" after a night he will never forget against the Queensland Reds last weekend.
"When we talked two weeks ago, I tried to steer clear of the fact I had actually never won a rugby union grand final," Ross said.
"I've been in anywhere between five or six rugby grand finals, whether that's at Daramalan or Eagles coming through.
"Growing up and losing all of those grand finals, I felt surely one was going to go my way. Doing it for the Brumbies made it even more special, not only for me but for my family and friends."
JOHN I DENT CUP ROUND 10
Saturday: Uni-Norths Owls v Tuggeranong Vikings at ANU North Oval; Queanbeyan Whites v Wests Lions at Campese Oval; Canberra Royals v Gungahlin Eagles at Phillip Oval. All games at 3.05pm.
Where the Brumbies are running: Canberra Royals (Connal McInerney); Gungahlin Eagles (Tom Ross, Isaak Fines, Mack Hansen); Queanbeyan Whites (Nick Frost); Wests Lions (Harry Lloyd, Reesjan Pasitoa); Uni Norths Owls (Billy Pollard); Tuggeranong Vikings (Lachlan Lonergan, Darcy Swain, Ryan Lonergan)