The Newcastle Rugby League is one of the oldest Rugby League competitions in Australia, founded in 1910 – and 2018 is set to be one of its biggest years ever under the control of the New South Wales Rugby League.
Newcastle Rugby League Chief Executive Officer Matt Harris says over the previous three seasons the competitiveness of the Newcastle Rugby League competition, the Business Plaza Cup, has been at an all-time high.
"At first grade level we have had three different winners, two of which have broken 20-plus-year premiership droughts," Harris said. "This unpredictability of results is the foundation of a successful sport and is what drives support from fans and participants.
"This year we see an unprecedented number of National Rugby League players participating within the first-grade competition in part due to the off-season recruitment drive undertaken by the Newcastle Knights."
He added that a key advantage of the new affiliation is that the first-grade competition is now classified as a NSWRL Major Competition on par with the Ron Massey Cup.
"This change will provide a significantly increased profile and market reach for Newcastle RL and the injection of additional resources will improve the professionalism across all our competitions," Harris said.
Fans can also look forward to under-19 Friday night double headers, a stand-alone Women in League round, Maitland Pickers home matches at the new Maitland Sportsground and Grand Final day at McDonald Jones Stadium.
The Newcastle Rugby League has a proud and rich history of producing up-and-coming talent which flows to and from the National Rugby League.
Eight teams currently participate in the Business Plaza Newcastle Rugby League competition:
- Central Charlestown Butcher Boys
- Cessnock Goannas
- Kurri Kurri Bulldogs
- Lakes United Seagulls
- Macquarie Scorpions
- Maitland Pumpkin Pickers
- South Newcastle Lions
- Western Suburbs
The Newcastle Rugby League match of the round is available each week on the newcastlerugbyleague.com.au. Round 1 starts on Saturday with Maitland hosting Cessnock.
Defending Premiers Macquarie play Lakes, Kurri are at home to Souths and the only Sunday clash will feature Western Suburbs and Central Newcastle.
Central Newcastle Gains: Terrence Seu Seu, Callan Richardson, Simon Williams, Jermaine Ale
Cessnock Gains: Alan Lantry, Paul Carter, Royce Geoffrey
Kurri Kurri Gains: Jade Porter, Tom McKenzie, Sam Wooden, Kahn Junhke, Zen Dunstan
Lakes United Gains: Daniel Peck, Junior Rocqica, Josh Charles, Tyrone Amey, Roman Fepulai
Macquarie Scorpions Gains: Kyle Smith, Tyler Price-Campbell, Lachlan Preston, Dave Dryden, Jayden Roseberg, Todd Hurrell
Maitland Gains: Adam Clydsdale, Ryan Walsh, Geordie Connolly, Jayden Butterfield, Ethan Niszcott, Drew Watkins, Jayden Hocking
South Newcastle Gains: Tori Breeman, Daniel Marteeny
Western Suburbs Gains: Ryan Stig, Matt Shipway, Jordan Worboys, Oliver Powell, Josh Allison