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REAL NRL: Newcastle Rebels name strong squad to defend title

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The Newcastle Rebels are on track to defend their NSWRL Country Championships crown after naming a powerful squad for the 2024 tournament.

And, not surprisingly, Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL) back-to-back premiers Maitland Pickers and grand finalists South Newcastle Lions dominate the line-up.

Each will supply half a dozen players to coach Garth Brennan’s outfit.

Maitland’s Jayden Butterfield, Will Nieuwenhuise, Chad O’Donnell, Lincoln Smith, Matt Soper-Lawler and James Taylor received the nod from selectors, along with South Newcastle’s Mitch Black, Sam Clune, Ryan Glanville, Lewis Hamilton, Mathew Moon and Jack Welsh.

Pickers stars James Bradley and Gary Anderson, members of the side which defeated the Riverina Bulls 49-16 in 2023, were not considered due to pre-season training commitments with the Newcastle Knights.

And, as if the Rebels needed any more assistance, former NRL and Super League stars Blake Ferguson (Kurri Kurri Bulldogs), Peter Mata’utia (Lakes United Seagulls) and Will Smith (Western Suburbs Rosellas) grabbed a berth, too.

Timanu Alexander (Northern Hawks), Cameron Anderson (Central Newcastle Butcher Boys), Luke Huth (Cessnock Goannas), Connor Kirkwood (Kurri Kurri Bulldogs), Dylan Pythian (Lakes United Seagulls), Nick Ritter (Central Newcastle Butcher Boys), Wyatt Shaw (Cessnock Goannas), Ben Stone (Western Suburbs Rosellas), Honeti Tuha (Cessnock Goannas), Liam Wiscombe (Western Suburbs Rosellas) and Joe Woodbury (Cessnock Goannas) claimed the remaining spots.

“I wanted to reward all of the players who were part of last year’s successful campaign,” Brennan said.

“So, they’ve been selected again this season and, with the new guys we’ve added, I think we have a very competitive squad.”

The Rebels, who’ll start training towards the end of January, tackle Central Coast in round one at the Cessnock Sportsground on Saturday 2 March.

“The NSWRL Country Championships concept is all the stronger for having the best players in our region buying into it,” Newcastle Rugby League general manager Adam Devcich added.

“So, from the outset, I’d like to thank all of them and Garth for putting their hands up to be Involved.”

  • Newcastle Rebels (squad): Timanu Alexander (Northern Hawks), Cameron Anderson (Central Newcastle Butcher Boys), Mitch Black (South Newcastle Lions), Jayden Butterfield (Maitland Pickers), Sam Clune (South Newcastle Lions), Blake Ferguson (Kurri Kurri Bulldogs), Ryan Glanville (South Newcastle Lions), Lewis Hamilton (South Newcastle Lions), Luke Huth (Cessnock Goannas), Connor Kirkwood (Kurri Kurri Bulldogs), Peter Mata’utia (Lakes United Seagulls), Mathew Moon (South Newcastle Lions), Will Nieuwenhuise (Maitland Pickers), Chad O’Donnell (Maitland Pickers), Dylan Pythian (Lakes United Seagulls), Nick Ritter (Central Newcastle Butcher Boys), Wyatt Shaw (Cessnock Goannas), Lincoln Smith (Maitland Pickers), Will Smith (Western Suburbs Rosellas), Matt Soper-Lawler (Maitland Pickers), Ben Stone (Western Suburbs Rosellas), James Taylor (Maitland Pickers), Honeti Tuha (Cessnock Goannas), Jack Welsh (South Newcastle Lions), Liam Wiscombe (Western Suburbs Rosellas), Joe Woodbury (Cessnock Goannas)

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