CSU Bathurst will largely start its 2019 New Holland Agriculture Cup campaign at home, the Mitchell Men have been handed a dream opening month with three of their first four games to be hosted at University Oval.
CSU, who went down to Parkes in this year’s preliminary final, will be gunning to go two steps further as they search for their first top grade premiership since 2004, a season they also won second grade in.
The first test will be 2018 sparring partner Blayney in round one, the two sides played out some epic clashes this year, on April 6.
This will be followed up by an away trip to Mudgee a week later, before consecutive home matches against Dubbo Rhinos and defending champions Narromine on April 27 and May 4 respectively.
The Mitchell Men will be taking those tests with a new mentor too, with 2018 head coach Luke Kelly shifting to Wagga Wagga to take up a new job opportunity.
The vacant coach role has yet to be finalised however, but the new boss will have a good group of guns that are expected to return for the new campaign.
“We had a pretty good season this year and we’re excited about the next year,” CSU president Josh Buttenshaw said.
“We’ve got a few players that will still be round but we’ve lost a few other guys, but we’ll still be competitive.”
Buttenshaw said he expects Narromine to be the team to be again, but expects every team to be competitive.
“Narromine are always going to be strong, especially going undefeated last year,” he said.
“But we expect all teams to be competitive.”
The New Holland Cup will be made up of the same six teams from 2018 – Blayney, CSU, Dubbo Rhinos, Mudgee, Narromine and Parkes.
The competition will be played over 15 rounds, the opening one played on April 6 and the last one on July 27, before the top four finals.