Wyong captain-coach Mitch Williams still hopes to further bolster his forward pack despite off-season departures from Nathan Kegg-King and Tarnae Mahon.
Williams revealed on Friday that Kegg-King, who was named in Newcastle Rugby League's team of the year for 2023, has left the Roos to join Queensland Cup premiers Brisbane Tigers. Mahon is poised to have a crack at NSW Cup with the Rabbitohs.
"Super exciting times for them, but it just means the guys we're bringing in are replacing rather than adding depth. As a coach I'm pleased, but I'm also aware it leaves holes we need to fill," Williams told the Newcastle Herald.
Wyong signing Bayden Searle (Macquarie), who replaces England-bound halfback Lachlan Hanneghan, has "looked really sharp already" in pre-season training this month according to Williams.
"He just seems to be a guy who is naturally fit and a real competitor. I think he will add something to really help myself [hooker] and Sharpey [fullback Luke Sharpe] offload a bit of that burden in attack," he said.
Northern Hawks coach Brad Tighe says both experienced campaigner Henry Penn and Australian Schoolboys representative Logan Aoake "will be with us next year" while the Port Stephens-based club lose Jessie O'Connor (Kurri Kurri).
Macquarie have recruited Beau Parnell (group 21), Jake Burke (Queensland Cup) and Tristan McKay. Lakes picked up Matt Cooper (Macquarie) and retain Kyle Kingston.