Coach: Phil Williams
Last Premiership: 1949
Gains: Kurt Warden (Cessnock), Junior Roqica (Lakes), Josh Allison (Wests), Brad Russell (Macquarie), Tim Bridges (Scone - Group 21).
Losses: Grant Anderson (Knights - 20s), Terence Seu Seu (Wyong - Central Coast), Steve Gordon (Wellington), Matt Baker (Gunnedah), Tom Morton, Liam Boney (Dudley - NHRL), Cal Richardson, Simon Williams (not playing), Shaun Metcalf (retired).
Past Five Seasons:
2018: 2nd (9 wins, 1 draw, 6 losses)
2017: 3rd (9-7)
2016: 7th (2-1-13)
2015: 5th (6-8)
2014: 4th (10-6)
Q and A with coach Phil Williams:
Q: You looked after the Newcastle Rebels representative squad last year and prior to that former club Kurri, what's it been like back in the coaching box?
A: It's been good. Everything I've asked for they seem to do. We've lost a few players and had to gain a few.
Q: Are the Butcher Boys keen to keep their finals run going after knocking on the door the last couple of seasons?
A: They are. They've achieved in the competition rounds but probably underachieved in the semi-finals. But first of all we just have to win football games to put ourselves in a position to be there again.
Q: Anyone that you've been particularly impressed by during pre-season training at St John Oval?
A: Matt Koellner has been exception and has sowed something. Dom Murphy as well. But just the enthusiasm of the young blokes and they way they soak everything up. They feed off the older guys like Jermaine Ale, Brad Murray, Junior Roqica and Kurt Warden.
Central, who were in the mix the last two years but unable to break a title drought in the top grade, have a change in coach and a change in roster for 2019.
Phil Williams takes over the Butcher Boys from Craig Miller and they are down plenty of experience - Terence Seu Seu and Steve Gordon are elsewhere, Cal Richardson isn't playing and Simon Williams remains uncommitted.
Playmaker Brad Murray has stayed at St John Oval with the club champions along with skipper Ethan Cook. Jermaine Ale and Marcel Ikinofo may partner up in the centres.
Front-row recruits Kurt Warden and Junior Roqica will help the cause, especially after the signing of former NRL prop Kade Snowden fell through, while Scone speedster Tim Bridges adds to the backline.
Central will have to be at their best to be back inside the top three for a third straight season.
Round 1 v Souths on April 14 (H)
Round 2 v Maitland on April 27 (A)
Round 3 v Macquarie on May 4 (A)
Round 4 v Cessnock on May 18 (H)
Round 5 v Wests on May 26 (A)
Round 6 v Jurri on June 1 (H)
Round 7 v Maitland on June 8 (A)
Round 8 v Macquarie on June 15 (H)
Round 9 v Souths on June 23 (A)
Round 10 v Kurri on July 7 (A)
Round 11 v Wests on July 14 (H)
Round 12 v Cessnock on July 21 (A)
Round 13 v Lakes on July 28 (H)
Round 14 v Maitland on August 3 (H)
Round 15 v Lakes on August 17 (A)
Round 16 v Kurri on August 25 (H)
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