The clash between Rio Olympians Jamie Dwyer and Matt Dawson will take centre stage at Newcastle International Hockey Centre on Saturday but another battle looms in the season opener.
A rejuvenated Wests, who welcome Australia’s greatest player Dwyer as special guest, and defending champions Norths, who have current Kookaburras representative Dawson returning, meet in round one of the Hunter Coast Premier Hockey League with the Stanbury-Moane Cup also up for grabs.
The annual inter-club silverware takes on greater significance this time around with trophy namesake and Norths foundation member James Stanbury, better known as Strawbs, passing away earlier this year.
“It will be a celebration of hockey,” Norths skipper Theo Gruschka said.
The remaining fixtures take place on Sunday with Souths playing University (3pm) at the Broadmeadow venue while last year’s runner-up Gosford host Maitland (12pm) at Wyong. The Entrance have the bye.
And in the Newcastle District Women’s Hockey Association premier league Central start their two-time title defence with a grand final replay against Regals (1.45pm) in Newcastle on Saturday. Elsewhere in the first round Tigers tackle Souths (3pm), Oxfords challenge Avoca Beach (4.15pm) and Gosford face Erina (5.30pm).