Defending premiers Cessnock have been rocked by the loss of brothers Gerome and Denzel Burns, who this week walked out on the club to return to Toowoomba.
Goannas coach Todd Edwards confirmed rumours the brothers had blind-sided the club and simply left to return home, six weeks into the competition.
Gerome was the Goeys' halfback while Denzel had been playing on the wing and both were selected in the Newcastle Rebels representative squad for up-coming games against Canberra and Illawarra.
"We're obviously really disappointed and it puts us in a difficult position, particularly with the halfback going," Edwards said. "We put a lot of time and effort into getting them here and to see them up and leave because they are homesick or whatever is tough to take.
"It's hard enough attracting a halfback to your joint in December/January let alone trying to sign one in May."
Cessnock clash with Central on Sunday at St John Oval.
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