Playing against a former club always adds another element to any sporting fixture and Callan Richardson will know all about it in next year’s opening round.
The former NSW Country back has confirmed a move to Central Newcastle and will face off with Western Suburbs, where he has won multiple premierships during the last decade.
Richardson, who lined up for Wests in the Newcastle Rugby League grand final in September, joins former Rosellas mentor Craig Miller at the Butcher Boys for the upcoming season as well as previous teammates Brad Murray and Steve Gordon.
“He’s a local junior so he’s no points for us which helps. It’s a huge signing,” Central captain Ethan Cooke said.
It will be familiar surrounds for Richardson first-up on the weekend of April 21-22, with Wests hosting Central at Harker Oval.
Elsewhere in the 2018 season opener and the Pickers christen their new home at Maitland Sportsground against Cessnock, title holders Macquarie have Lakes and Souths are away to Kurri.
The draw was officially released on Thursday with club representatives gathering at the Honeysuckle Hotel.
A traditional Coalfields derby between Cessnock and Kurri arises in the second round (April 28-29), South Newcastle tackle this year’s grand finalists Macquarie and Wests three times each while a repeat of the 2017 decider between the Scorpions and Rosellas doesn’t eventuate until round eight (June 23-24).
In other grades Friday night footy will be trialled for under 19s and thirds while ladies league tag will play all games at one venue to mark “women in league” round (July 28-29).
Next year’s grand final will again be played at McDonald Jones Stadium but it has yet to be confirmed whether it occurs on Saturday, September 22 or Sunday, September 23.