Intrust Super Premiership NSW players and coaches today (Tuesday, 21 February) joined True Blues Laurie Daley, Andrew Johns, Anthony Minichiello, Shaun Timmins and Luke Bailey to launch the 2017 NSWRL season.

The NSWRL welcomed the new season at a luncheon at Lilyfield’s Le Montage, with the senior competitions – Intrust Super Premiership NSW, Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield – kicking off on Saturday week (4 March), while the junior representative competitions head into Round 3 this weekend.

Intrust Super Premiership NSW defending premiers Illawarra will open the new season when they host Penrith at UOW Jubilee Oval on Saturday, while Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles take on Newtown as part of a triple-header in Blacktown.

Newly appointed Cutters assistant coach and former Origin great Luke Bailey believes the gap from the Intrust Super Premiership NSW to the NRL has decreased in recent years.

“I think a lot of young players coming through the junior system are now aspiring to play in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW. The standard of Rugby League has certainly increased since I was playing,” Bailey said.

“I think I can pass down some of my experience to a lot of these guys and hopefully make a difference.”

Last year’s Ron Massey Cup preliminary finalists Wentworthville will start their campaign against 2016 surprise packets Hills District Bulls at Ringrose Park, while Mounties and St Marys clash in Round 3 in the much-anticipated Grand Final rematch.

Moorebank Rams, based in South West Sydney, enter the Sydney Shield competition in 2017 as they face off against St Marys in the opening weekend, while Mounties will have to wait until Round 6 to exact revenge over St Marys, who produced the upset of the year on Grand Final day last season.

For more information on the NSWRL competitions, including draws and fixtures, go to www.nswrl.com.au