Representative cricket coach Shane Burley has welcomed a change-up in the NSW Country Championships draw that has Newcastle shifting to the state’s southern pool this season.
The title holders will be up against Greater Illawarra, ACT and Riverina at Nowra from November 9 to 11 after trading places with last year’s beaten finalists Central Coast.
“We don’t mind the change in the draw at all, it will be good to mix it up a bit,” Burley said. “Some of those teams [down south] we haven’t actually played against for years, so it will be a new challenge for us.”
Central North, Western and North Coastal remain in the northern pool, which returns to Inverell from November 16 to 18.
Winners from each group progress to the 2018-2019 final at Bradman Oval.
Meanwhile, in the NSW Premier Cricket T20 Cup and Newcastle will host Mosman and Sydney in a double header at No.1 Sportsground on November 25 after opening their campaign against Illawarra at North Dalton Park on November 4. The Steel finish with Gordon at Chatswood Oval on December 2.
Burley said an earlier Regional Bash T20 fixture between the Newcastle Blasters and Lake Mac Attack at Cameron Park would act as a trial.
Training started on Saturday.