TAREE City start preparations for the 2018 Group Three Rugby League season on Tuesday when training begins at the Taree Recreation Centre.
This will be for all four grades at 6pm.
Matt Everitt will be the first grade captain-coach. He replaced Gary Bridge, the coach for the past two seasons. Bridge will remain involved with the club as the first grade team manager.
Everitt expects the majority of the 2017 squad to be back this year.
"At this stage only Ash Currey and Aaron Bayley have indicated they won’t be playing,’’ Everitt said.
He said halfback Todd Bridge is still undecided. Bridge made a successful comeback last year from knee reconstruction surgery and was named in the group’s team of the year.
Everitt said the club is looking to add to its roster but no new signings have yet been announced.
“I have been speaking to a couple of players, but I’ll keep that close to my chest at the moment,’’ he said.
The Bulls made the preliminary final last year despite being hit hard by injuries late in the season. Everitt also missed the semi-final campaign when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, but has made a full recovery and is a definite starter for the season-opener in April.
Taree will play a trial game against Singleton on February 24 at the Jack Neal Oval in what is now an annual fixture for the clubs.
Troy Betts will coach the reserve grade with Matt Mullen again in charge of the under 18s. The Bulls expect to announce a coach for the league tag side soon.
Old Bar started training this week at the Old Bar Reserve under coaches Jake Wheeler and Jason Morrissey.
The Pirates have been busy in the player market during the off-season. Last week the club announced that utility back Keda Moylan and halfback James Smith had agreed to terms.
They’ll join other newcomers Carlos Kuhu-Martin, Shannon Ellem and Percy King. Kuhu-Martin is a former Country representative who played at Tweed Heads last season. King is a Junior Kiwi centre while second rower Ellem was with Wingham Tigers and represented Group Three under 23s last year.
The Pirates will play in the Coffs Harbour Nines on February 17 while they also have an annual trial game against Newcastle club Carrington Pirates.
Group Three Rugby League’s pre-season will kick off Saturday March 10 at Kempsey and Sunday March 11 at Wingham with the finals on Saturday March 17 at Tuncurry and Sunday March 18 at Port Macquarie Regional Stadium.
The group’s season launch will be at the Wingham Services Club on Friday March 23 with the competition-proper underway from April 14 and 15.