All New Era Midwest Cup teams are now in full training for the 2017 season and, with the demise of the Lithgow Giants club, the format of the premiership returns to an eight-club competition.
Trial games have been mutually arranged before the first official hit-out, the annual knockout gala day set down for April 1 at Tony Luchetti Sportsground, the event to be hosted by Lithgow Bears.
At the 2016 knockout at Kandos the finalists Villages United and Blackheath previewed the premiership grand final in August, and this year’s knockout final could give an early indication of the new season’s frontrunners.
The regular competition commences on April 22, and this year’s premiership is wide open with the loss of influential players from both of 2016’s grand finalists.
Premiers Villages United have lost most of their grand final forward pack, and two of Blackheath’s representative players, Matt Ranse and Ryan Jervis have transferred to St Pats and Workies respectively.
Kandos has a more formidable side with the acquisition of a number of seasoned players and the return of experienced premiership winners Steve and John Madden, and CSU with just one team will have extra players vying for positions to boost their always-competitive team.
CSU have pre-season trial games against CSU Albury Mud Dogs and Burrangong Bears, while Kandos have a trial at Kandos against Portland Colts on March 4.
The New Era Cup 2016 merit league tag team will compete in the Canowindra knockout in March.
On Friday evening, February 17, Lithgow Bears have booked two tables for the Fletch and Hindy Show at Lithgow Workmen’s Club, and the two former NRL players Bryan Fletcher and Nathan Hindmarsh will be conducting auctions, one of which is a framed Bulldogs poster, on behalf of the Bears.
Blackheath’s Jed Jervis has been selected as the New Era Midwest Cup men’s representative team coach.
Last year saw the Kandos league tag side downed by the CSU Mungals 24 to 4 in the grand final, and the team will be looking to go one better in 2017.
Trial and season fixtures are available online.