There will be plenty of NRL experience on display in the Mojo Homes Illawarra Cup this weekend with True Blue Tim Grant and former Manly Sea Eagles players Josh Starling and Frank Winterstein all turning out for Thirroul Butchers in 2021.
Grant, who played 196 NRL games for the Penrith Panthers, South Sydney Rabbitohs and Wests Tigers and four Origins for the NSW Blues before retiring in 2019, signed to play with the Butchers last season. He is remembered for his barnstorming hit up off the kick-off in Game One of the 2012 State of Origin series where he steamrolled Panthers team-mate Petero Civoneceva.
Starling played 60 NRL games for the Rabbitohs, Manly Warringah Sea Eagles and Newcastle Knights from 2012-17 while Winterstein played 59 matches for Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Sea Eagles and Panthers as well as nine Tests for Samoa in a career that spanned from 2008-2019.
Five teams are competing in the Mojo Homes Illawarra Cup in 2021 including Thirroul Butchers, Collegians Collie Dogs, Corrimal Cougars, Dapto Canaries and Western Suburbs Red Devils.
There’s plenty on the line for all sides with the premier representing the Southern Conference in the Presidents Cup in September.
The Presidents Cup was re-introduced by the NSWRL last season and proved to be a great success with the Maitland Pickers defeating Glebe-Burwood Wolves 17-16 in the Grand Final.
This year’s remodified format sees the Ron Massey Cup representing the Central Conference, the Denton Engineering Cup the Northern Conference and the Illawarra Cup the Southern Conference.
The winners of each conference and a wildcard team will then face off in Semi-Finals before the Grand Final at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday 26 September.
With a wealth of NRL experience, it’s little surprise the Butchers will start as the competition favourites, although they are facing off against a tough Dapto Canaries side in Round One.