Former NRL and Super League playmaker Tyler Randall will add experience to a youth-dominated Cessnock Goannas team in the upcoming Newcastle Rugby League amateur competition.
Randall, who was one of several pre-Covid-19 star signings, will play in the reduced 10-round competition for free alongside several youthful first grade players including Reed Hugo, Nick Lawrence, Robert Tuliatu and Seaton Reid.
Group 21 representative players Hamish and Tyler Wolfgang and Tyler LePrince-Campbell, from Aberdeen, will also line up with Cessnock along with Newcastle Knights junior Tom Baker.
The Goannas are on the hunt for players as they look to fast track the development of youth. The competition kicks off on July 18 with Goannas under a draft draw to host the Maitland Pickers.
Both the Goannas and Kurri Kurri Bulldogs are struggling two weeks out to get enough numbers to field two men's sides.
However, there are provisions for them to just field one team and it will be graded on the basis of a points system taking into account first and lower grade experience across the squad.
A final draw is expected to be announced by Newcastle RL this week as clubs finalise their teams for the two tier men's comp, Blues Tag and under-19 competition.
Goannas coach Todd Edwards said with many of the senior players opting not to play this season, it was an ideal opportunity to concentrate on development of younger players.
Three of the most promising prospects are Harrison Spruce, Joe Barber and Harvey Neville who were all prominent in the Goannas' Challenge Cup win against North Tamworth Bears way back in a pre-Covid impacted February outing.
"We've got a few regular first graders in the team, but it's a chance for the other boys on the edge to further push their case and for us to help their development," Edwards said.
"We still need some numbers, but we're hopeful they will pick up soon."
The Goannas are hopeful of entering Tier 1 and 2 teams and a Blues Tag side, but will not field an under-19 team.