Premierships at three different Newcastle Rugby League clubs will be on the agenda for Brad Murray next year after joining Central from Lakes.
The Seagulls halfback reunites with new Butcher Boys coach Craig Miller after success together in back-to-back grand finals at Western Suburbs (2013, 2014).
Murray then made it three titles in a row when steering Lakes to victory last year.
But after falling two games short of a fourth straight decider this season the former NRL player has been coaxed from Belmont to Charlestown for 2017.
Miller, who was announced as Central Newcastle mentor last month, reckons he has snared the best in the business and Murray’s presence will influence future signings.
“In my opinion Brad is the best halfback in country rugby league and getting him to the club is a massive coup,” Miller said.
“That’s obviously having a cascade affect on other people we’re attracting.”
One of those is outside back Mitch Williams, another former Wests player under Miller and in the Knights system for five years.
However, Miller is confident of securing the services of a few more key players as the club attempts to improve on a second last finish this year and break the competition’s longest premiership drought, which has stood since 1949.
“They are the first two signings, but we will secure another couple more before I finish,” he said. “That will pull me up from a budget point of view and making sure we keep all the right kids, but we just needed to put some experience around them.”
Rookie of the year Dom Murphy has been retained alongside Ethan Cook, Matt Baker and Blake Jarrett.
Departing the Butcher Boys are playmaker Jordan Worboys and forward Cody Brooks to Cessnock, who are down retiring Brendan Hlad according to returning Goannas coach Steve Kidd.
Around the grounds and grand final winning captain-coach Todd Hurrell has yet to decide whether he will continue to play at South Newcastle next season with Ben Cross taking charge.
Meanwhile, Newcastle Rebels trio Simon Williams, Ryan Walker and Peter Mannion have withdrawn from the NSW Country squad set to tour Samoa next month.
Half-a-dozen Newcastle representatives Josh Charles, Marcel Ikinofo, Chris Adams, Jake Finn, Blake Gallen and Josh Schmiedel remain in the team to play a curtain-raiser for the Test match between Samoa and Fiji in Apia on October 8.