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Ultimate Guide: Cessnock trial and FanFest details

The nib Newcastle Knights take on the Cessnock Goannas in their first trial ahead of the 2021 NRL season on Saturday evening.

With the match taking place as part of the inaugural FanFest at Cessnock Sports Ground, there will be plenty of members of the NRL squad taking the field in their first hit out ahead of the new season.


Date: Saturday, 20th February

Location: Cessnock Sports Ground

Time: 6pm



1. Mackenzie Baker, 2. Jacob Kiraz, 3. Brayden Musgrove, 4. Dylan Lucas, 5. Dom Young, 6. Hayden Loughrey, 7. Kobe Davis, 8. Pasami Saulo, 9. Mitch Black, 10. Garrett Smith, 11. Jaron Purcell, 12. Brodie Jones, 13. Jack Johns, 14. Luke Huth, 15. Christian Ma'anaima, 16. Mat Croker, 17. John Tolofea, 18. Zac Hosking, 19. Dan Ticehurst, 20. Blake Campbell, 21. Harvey Neville, 22. Matt Soper-Lawler, 23. Ben Talty, 24. Liam Wilkinson, 25. Harry Croker, 26. Harry van Dartel, 27. Sione Tuitupou-Kutu, 28. Henry Penn, 29. Jesse Cronin, 30. Tyler Coburn, 31. Blake Lenehan 

First Hit Out

After a long and tough pre-season, football is finally back.

While we've been without the game for less time than usual (thanks to COVID-19 extending the 2020 season well into October), some of the players will take the field for the first time since March last year.

Many players were left out in the cold following the COVID-induced shutdown of the lower grades last season, and will be itching for an inaugural hit-out ahead of the new year.

Coming home

There will be at least three players taking the field this weekend who's origins lie in the coalfields.

NRL squad members Jack Johns, Brodie Jones and Brayden Musgrove will all take the field against the Goannas, with the latter two players having donned the famous gold jersey in previous seasons.

Musgrove was instrumental in clinching a premiership for the Club in the Newcastle Rugby League last season, and will look to impress in front of the local fans as a Knights player.

Readying for Round One

Naming a vast squad of 31 players for the trial, Adam O'Brien will be looking closely at his troops with Round One at the front of his mind.

There will be plenty of young players, such as Johns, Jones and Musgrove who will be looking to crack into O'Brien's 17 come March 12.

A big performance here will be a massive assistance for players looking to get to the front of Head Coaches mind.

Ticketing and Event Details

The trial will kick off at 6pm, at the conclusion of FanFest.

The event is completely free and open-to-all, with festivities kicking off at 11am with our Harold Matthews and SG Ball teams in action.

All members of the NRL squad who aren't taking the field against Cessnock will instead take part in an open training session, before hitting the festival grounds to meet members and fans.

Full event details can be viewed here.

Macca’s® Footy Feast

For all those looking for a feast on the day, McDonalds Cessnock will be offering a Medium Big Mac® Extra Value Meal® + Cheeseburger & Small Sundae or Hot Apple Pie for $9.55.

The offer will be available from 10:30am.

Key Timings

11am: Gates Open

11am: Harold Matthews Cup kick off v Penrith Panthers

12:30pm: SG Ball Cup kick off v Penrith Panthers

1:30pm: Knights Membership and Merchandise Marquee Open

2pm: NRL Open Training Sessions

4pm: Meet the 2021 NRL Squad

6pm: Newcastle Knights v Cessnock Goannas