Andrew 'Bobcat' Ryan in action during his playing days for Cannterbury

One of the toughest and most admired rugby league players of the modern era, Andrew ‘Bobcat’ Ryan will begin his coaching career in Newcastle with South Newcastle Lions next year.

The former Canterbury Bulldogs back rower, originally a bush star from Dubbo, is at the helm of the reigning premiers, while former club stalwart Glen Agland is in charge of  beaten grand finalists, Lakes United Seagulls.

With the 2018 season being one of the closest in recent memory, the much anticipated 2019 home and away season will kick off on the April 13.

The first three rounds will see two coalfield derbies and a replay of last season’s grand final between the Lions and the Seagulls  which will take place at Townson Oval on May 5.

Next year’s competition will see two stand alone representative rounds.

On May 11, the Newcastle Rebels will play a representative team from the NSWRL Ron Massey Cup competition. From that match a combined NSWRL Pioneers team will be selected in play the Queensland Rangers on the weekend of June 29-30.

Prior to the commencement of the home and away season, a Newcastle All Stars versus Indigenous All Stars match will be played on March 30. All Stars day will feature rugby league and family entertainment, run in conjunction with a community festival event. Further details of the event will be confirmed early in 2019.

For the full 2019 competition draw go to https://bit.ly/2zK36kv