A refreshed Norths Devils are ready to end the longest break between games in the club’s history when their Intrust Super Cup season begins on the road against Brisbane Tigers tomorrow night.
When the Devils run on to Totally Workwear Stadium, it will be 371 days since their last clash.
It’s a drought unlike any other in the Devils’ 88-year history, which includes the Second World War.
Ten Devils debutants have been named in coach Rohan Smith’s extended squad, which includes seven players who featured in the last game – a 23-22 win over Mackay Cutters in Round 1, 2020.
The competition was cancelled a few days later due to COVID, starting the drought that ends tomorrow.
“It’s been a long time between games but that’s also given some of the guys a chance to refresh and have a break that they never thought possible,” Devils coach Rohan Smith said.
“It’s always exciting to start a new season. We’ve got some new faces around but we’ve also got some players who have been here for a while now.”
Captain Jack Ahearn will lead out a Devils team that has a mixture of experience in its debutants – Danny Levi and Leivaha Pulu have combined for more than 160 NRL matches while Reece Walsh and Brendan Piakura are both 18 years old.
Levi played every match for Manly in the NRL last year, becoming used to the new rules that will be a part of this year’s NRL season.
Smith said the Devils always had close matches with the Tigers in a rivalry that has sprung a rather odd statistic – the last team to win a home match between the pair was Norths in 2012.
The home team has since failed to win the last 14 matches between the old rivals.
“The Tigers always have good teams and they always provide a very good test and that will be no different tomorrow night,” Smith said.
“It’s exciting for players to move on from the pre-season and into the first game of competition, particularly after such a long break.”