MICHAEL Hooper, Kurtley Beale and the NSW Waratahs are coming back to Newcastle - and they could be taking on Sonny Bill Williams.
The Waratahs will use McDonald Jones Stadium as a home away from home when they tackle New Zealand outfit, the Blues, in round two of Super Rugby on Saturday, February 8.
The 2020 Super Rugby draw will be released on Tuesday but the Herald understands that Newcastle City Council and Venues NSW have negotiated a second visit to the region after the Tahs suffered a shock 31-29 defeat to the Sunwolves on March 29.
The match against the Blues will be the Tahs' first in NSW after opening their campaign against defending champions the Crusaders in Christchurch.
The Newcastle Jets A-League side host fierce rival Central Coast the next day.
The Waratahs are without a permanent home until a new stadium is completed at Moore Park in mid 2021.
McDonald Jones Stadium will be one of six venues used, with the majority of games to be played in Sydney.
A crowd of 12,621 was on hand for the upset win by the Sunwolves, which was the first time NSW had taken a Super Rugby game out of Sydney.
Although the figure was under the 15,000 officials had hoped for, corporate box sales were strong and NSW Rugby achieved the revenue benchmarks set.
The Newcastle Knights played the Canberra Raiders in the ACT on the same night and the Sunwolves, who are no longer in the competition, were not crowd-pullers.
It's a different story for the three-time champion Blues, who boast seven All Blacks headed by Williams and 103-test legend Ma'a Nonu.
Williams, 34, is off contract at the Blues and is yet to indicate his future beyond the World Cup, which starts in Japan on September 20.
The dual international last played in Newcastle for the Sydney Roosters in a 16-12 loss to the Knights in round 20 of the 2014 National Rugby League season - his last before switching to rugby union.
Williams, when at the Bulldogs, was sensationally sent off for a high shot on Andrew Johns in the 2007 season opener at Turton Road which resulted in the Knights halfback being taken to hospital.
The Waratahs, baring injury, will feature Newcastle front-rower and newly minted Wallaby Harry Johnson-Holmes and possibly Andrew Tuala.
Johnson-Holmes started against the Sunwolves in Newcastle and went on to establish himself in the No.1 jumper. Tuala was on the bench against the Sunwolves but was not used. He made his debut off the bench against the Bulls in round 10.
NSW Rugby Union chief executive Andrew Hore was glowing in his praise of the facilities in Newcastle in the lead up to the Sunwolves match.
"You have a world class facility here with a world class surface," he said.
"There is a real opportunity for Newcastle to host more games. Local politicians and the council have been outstanding in welcoming us here. We have built up a good relationship with the Newcastle and Hunter board and this city and region, as a whole, has a proud rugby tradition."