Retravision Northern League newcomers Northern United will not have long to wait to get an indication of their chances in the 2009 Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League (NRRRL) competition. They will play premiers Byron Bay in round two on April 26 at Byron.

The 2009 draw was released this week, with officials opting out of a decision to split the competition into Northern and Southern conferences.

There had been plenty of talk about splitting the competition to ease the travelling burden on the Tweed and Clarence clubs, but NRRRL officials decided against the move, primarily in a bid to retain as many local derbies as possible.

For example, under the split conference draw, traditional rivals such as Lismore Marist Brothers and Ballina may not have clashed unless they made the finals.

2009 promises to be an exiciting year for local league, with the addition of Northern United and Evans Head Bombers to the competition.

Northern United will be made up mostly of Aboriginal players, under the coaching of the experienced Chris Binge.

Signings include Fred Waters, Mick Moran, Chris Swan, Alwyn Roberts, Clarence Kelly, Tyson Binge and Justin Bolt.

Some observers already are tipping them as competition winners, and these predictions will be given credence if they can beat Byron Bay in round two.

Byron, under the coaching of former club junior Nathan Cross, were the benchmark team last season, going on to win the grand final in a thriller against Grafton Ghosts.

Evans Head Bombers, who made the reserve grade grand final last season, have stepped up to the top grade and will be coached by former Brothers player Damien Bryant.

A major signing for Evans is Tim Tregidgo, who starred in the forwards for Brothers last season.

Evans Head’s debut match in the NRRRL will be against Ballina in round one on April 19 at Ballina.

The draw for round one is:

NORTHERN UNITED V LOWER CLARENCE
GRAFTON RHINOS V BYRON BAY
BALLINA V EVANS HEAD
CUDGEN V MURWILLUMBAH
KYOGLE V TWEED COAST
MULLUMBIMBY V GRAFTON GHOSTS
CASINO RSM V MARIST BROTHERS.

For the full season draw, click here.