Norths’ 2020 campaign begins at Bishop Park tonight with a burst of pre-season training to welcome some familiar and new faces into the Devils’ fold.
The core group that delivered the Devils’ first Intrust Super Cup finals berth in seven years will return for a pre-season schedule that opens with all grades tonight, tomorrow and Friday.
This group will begin afresh, realising the progress of the last two seasons will not guarantee success when the 2020 season begins.
The Devils will welcome recruits Bryce Donovan and Tony Tomusa while popular forward Carne Doyle-Manga returns to Bishop Park after a season in the UK.
Quality prop Jamayne Taunoa-Brown has taken up a pre-season contract with the New Zealand Warriors. His return to Bishop Park will be determined by his pre-season work in Auckland.
Donovan will boost the halves stocks following the departure of Bronco Troy Dargan, who signed with South Sydney.
Donovan captained Redcliffe in 2019 after figuring in the 2018 premiership victory, enhancing his reputation as a quality Intrust Super Cup player as the Dolphins recovered from a slow start to make the finals.
Tomusa played with Donovan at the Dolpins in 2018, showing his speed as an outside back before he signed with a French club.
“We’ve added some players in the off-season but there is a lot of continuity in the group which is a positive for us,” Devils coach Rohan Smith said.
“We’ve got a lot of existing relationships among the group and we have an understanding about each other so we can hit the ground running.
“But this is a new season that we’re preparing for. It will be different to last season so we’re looking forward to starting again.”
With the core of the senior squad intact from last season including 2019 skipper Jack Ahearn, the Devils are also looking forward to Norths junior Hiale Roycroft, Harry Freebairn and Jay Gallagher continuing their development at the club while Stedman Lefau returns to Bishop Park after missing part of last season.
“We’ll be training as a club across these first three days which is always an exciting time to watch the grades come together,” Smith said.
The Devils’ first pre-season matches are scheduled for February ahead of the start of the season in March. The draws for the new season are yet to be released.