NEWCASTLE City's Mitch Crawford returns to the men's Black Diamond Cup on Saturday following a four-year stint in US college playing American football.
Crawford's last Aussie rules game was the 2016 grand final, the same season he finished as the competition's leading goal scorer and City won the flag.
It's great to have him back."MITCH KNIGHT
"It's great to have him back," Blues captain-coach Mitch Knight said.
"Obviously he can play footy. He's probably a little bit rusty by his standards but every sessions he's getting more fitness and touch back.
"He's a great leader among the group as well."
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Crawford will be one of several players donning the City uniform again after time off the field.
Knight, Ian Baker, Steve Batten, Hugh Kelleher, Harry Keast and Cameron Keast rejoin the squad for 2021.
New recruits include Egan Bradbury (Wagin - WA) and Keegan Mason (Monash - Victoria).
However, the Blues are down four young guns in Reed van Huisstede (Swans - VFL), Aidan Watling (Swans - VFL development), Jack Lyons (Sydney Uni) and Jack Woodhams (Portarlington - Victoria).
City open their 2021 campaign with a grand final replay against two-time defending premiers Terrigal Avoca at Hawkins Oval on Saturday (3pm).
The Panthers are largely unchanged with 2020 best and fairest Mitch Price now assistant coach to long-time mentor Chris Bishop.
Elsewhere in round one Warners Bay host Maitland, Cardiff travel to Nelson Bay and Killarney Vale meet Gosford. Singleton has the bye.
In the women's Black Diamond Cup and title holders City also have Terrigal Avoca, Maitland are away to Warners Bay and newcomers Lake Macquarie take on Cardiff. Killarney Vale and Wyong Lakes have byes.
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