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The Peter McDonald Premiership will kick off tomorrow with a battle of the heavyweights when reigning premiers Forbes Magpies face Group 10 Premiers Mudgee Dragons at Glen Willow Oval in Mudgee.

The match is also the curtain-raiser to the NRL game between the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles and Newcastle Knights, and NSWRL Regional Manager Tim Del Guzzo said he could not think of a better way to start the season.

“It’s a real showpiece of our competition,” Del Guzzo said.

“It’s worked out that the PMP Premiers (Forbes) will play the Group 10 Premiers (Mudgee) before the NRL game, and it's a meaningful way to get the season started.

“The PMP is still a new competition, and everybody knows Group 10 and Group 11, but this helps raise awareness of the PMP, and people need to see how the competition works, and this match gives us that platform.”

The PMP – a combined Group 11 and Group 10 competition – celebrated its inaugural season in 2022, with Forbes defeating the Dubbo CYMS 28-16 in the Grand Final.

Images courtesy of Peter Sibley
Images courtesy of Peter Sibley

The Magpies then went on to represent the Western Conference in the Presidents Cup, which is a knockout competition involving the premiers of the Peter McDonald Premiership, Leagues Clubs Australia Ron Massey Cup (Central Conference), Denton Engineering Cup (Northern Conference) and the Mojo Homes Illawarra Cup (Southern Conference).

“The on-field product was amazing,” Del Guzzo said.

“Especially in the Under 18s; they came together with 13 teams, and the Grand Final was contested between the teams that finished fifth and sixth, and there was honestly nothing between the top-six teams.

“In first grade, we ended up with two Group 11 teams in the Grand Final, and Forbes upset Mudgee in the first Semi-final before going on their run, but any of the teams in the top eight were good enough to win on their day.

“The standard of footy went up, and any teething problems we had were off-field, and we have had a full off-season to work through them.”

After discussions with PMP clubs, organisers have announced some exciting changes heading into the new season.

“We’re still taking baby steps, and all four grades will come together this year to play the same draw,” Del Guzzo said.

“We had a big season review at Wellington last year, and we spoke about what worked and didn’t work, and the main takeaway was that all teams wanted all four grades playing on the same day.

“Group 10 and Group 11 teams will still play against teams in their Group twice, and there will be four crossover games, with two at the start of the year and two in the middle of the year, and all four grades will be involved in these crossover games.

“Plus, for those crossover games, we have tried to make it a return match compared to the fixtures we had last year.”

With Mudgee and Forbes battling on Saturday, the remainder of the 2023 PMP competition will kick off on April 15-16.

Many pundits expect the Dubbo CYMS and Forbes Magpies to be heavyweights in Group 11, while the Parkes Spacemen and Nyngan Tigers recruited well during the off-season.

In Group 10, the perennially dangerous Dragons will be competition favourites just ahead of Orange CYMS, while Bathurst St Patricks should be the big improver.

“It’s going to be another really good season, with competitive balance and a good level of competition,” Del Guzzo said.

“The PMP has been elevated to Major Competition status, and we get full support from (NSWRL) Head Office for this competition, and it has sparked much interest right across the region.”

PMP Group 10 teams: Bathurst Panthers, Bathurst St Patricks, Mudgee Dragons, Lithgow Workies Wolves, Orange CYMS, Orange Hawks

PMP Group 11: Dubbo CYMS, Dubbo Macquarie Raiders, Parkes Spacemen, Forbes Magpies, Nyngan Tigers, Wellington Cowboys.

PMP Round One draw (April 1): Mudgee Dragons v Forbes Magpies at Glen Willow Oval; April 15: Bathurst St Patricks v Nyngan Tigers at Jack Arrow Oval; April 15: Dubbo CYMS v Bathurst Panthers at Apex Oval; April 16: Wellington Cowboys v Lithgow Workies Wolves at Kennard Park; April 16: Orange CYMS v Dubbo Macquarie Raiders at TBC.

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