Grant Stewart went down for a net session with the Sydney Sixers while he was home in Australia over the Christmas period and he picked up fellow Kent county squad member Marcus O'Riordan on the way.
However, for the next two Saturdays at Cahill Oval, Stewart and O'Riordan will face off against each other with University and Belmont respectively as both sides look to keep their Newcastle District Cricket Association finals hopes alive.
NSW Country representative turned first-class player Stewart also has another English connection, Kent all-rounder Calum Haggett, lining up for a cameo with his old team the Sea Dragons (29 points), who sit one behind sixth-placed Belmont (30) but just one win away from second spot on the competition ladder.
Belmont captain Marcus Hainsworth knows the round nine encounter is a "crunch game" and the one-off inclusions of Stewart and Haggett make the job even more difficult.
Hainsworth also feels O'Riordan, who has been playing at Belmont all season, will step up "for sure" going head-to-head with some familiar faces.
"He [O'Riordan] goes home on the 15th [of February] so he's only got three more two-dayers and the T20s left," Hainsworth said.
"So he'll be keen anyway, but this will add another dimension to it."
Hainsworth said he would draw on Belmont's unlikely win against the Sea Dragons at the same venue almost 12 months ago.
"They have a fair side on paper," he said. "But we managed to beat them last year."
Belmont, coming off an outright result against Waratah-Mayfield, have Alex Cook interchanging with Ryan Mannix.
University skipper Matt Gawthrop is away with commitments from last year's My Kitchen Rules victory. Andrew Harriott, who scored a double century in a one-run win over Hamilton-Wickham last start, will take the reins.
Elsewhere on Saturday and Townson Oval hosts a top-four battle between Merewether (34) and unchanged Wallsend (33) with only one point between them on the overall standings.
Joseph Price has been named for Wests on day one as a replacement for Aaron Wivell, who remains with the Bush Blues at the Australian Country Championships in Toowoomba, when the frontrunners visit Cardiff-Boolaroo at Pasterfield Sports Complex.
Sam Jenkinson will lead Stockton and Northern Districts in the absence of Nick Foster, who is also on NSW Country duties, when second-placed Hamwicks travel to Lynn Oval.
City are bolstered by the return of the Major brothers, Jonty and Jesse, Rory Kalnins and Mitch Nesbitt ahead of their trip to Kahibah Oval to meet fifth-placed Charlestown.
Toronto have a string of unavailable players but wicketkeeper Mitch Duck, making his first grade debut, is one of at least four changes to face Waratah at Ron Hill Oval.
Play is scheduled to start at 11am both weekends.
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