FORMER NSW Country opening batsman Trent Colley is eager to test his skills against the might of Newcastle district cricket after agreeing to join Stockton-Raymond Terrace for the rest of the season.
The 29-year-old left-hander will move to Port Stephens from Orange next week and make his debut for the Seagulls in the first game after Christmas against Hamilton-Wickham at Lynn Oval.
Several Newcastle clubs were vying for his signature, but the club’s proximity to Port Stephens and his friendship with Seagulls president Ron Hancock through the Bush Blues clinched the deal.
The former Orange CYMS captain-coach is no stranger to Newcastle cricket.
Through representing Western zone and NSW Country he has played against and with some of Newcastle’s elite cricketers.
‘‘Newcastle is the strongest competition in NSW Country, if not Country regions across Australia,’’ Colley said.
‘‘For me to test myself at that level is a great challenge and it’s also exciting, not to lose sight of the fact I’m playing for enjoyment, which is the main thing.
‘‘It’ll be great to see the standard of the competition and how I fit in.’’
Colley will add to an already strong Seagulls batting order, led by in-form opener Jeff Goninan.
After three hundreds in club cricket, Goninan has essentially taken Colley’s spot in the Bush Blues side for the Australian Country Championships next month.
Together the pair could form one of the strongest opening partnerships in Newcastle.
‘‘I came across Jeff last year playing for ACT and he’s a good fella,’’ Colley said.
‘‘I’ve been watching the scores closely all year and he’s been the standout, alongside blokes like [Merewether skipper Simon Moore] Moorey.
‘‘He’s done terrifically well with three centuries and it will be terrific to play with Jeff.
‘‘Whether we both get to open together, or there’s a different arrangement, that’s obviously up to the skip.’’
The school teacher has accepted a transfer from Canobolas Rural Technology High in Orange to Hunter Sports High, where he is expected to assist Mark Curry with the cricket program.
Colley has coached the Western Zone Academy under 17s, NSW Combined High Schools and NSW under-15 schoolboys and hopes to further extend his coaching interests in Newcastle.
‘‘I love coaching and love the game,’’ he said.
‘‘In time once I get settled, I think coaching will be something I will involve myself in as well.’’