Dogs open road

Sean Hayne

Sean Hayne

Gunnedah Bulldogs will open their Group 4 campaign with three away games.

The draw for the 2017 First Division Cup season was endorsed during a special meeting held in Gunnedah on Sunday.

New coach Sean Hayne’s first game sees the Bulldogs facing an opening round trip to Collegians on the weekend of April 29-30.

Gunnedah is then back on the road, this time to Wee Waa for a contest against the Panthers, back as a member of the top-flight after a stint in Second Division.

The Bulldogs will have to wait until May 20 to grace Kitchener Park, welcoming league newcomers South West Robins.

The benefit of the three away games early is Gunnedah then plays four of the next five matches at home, including a Saturday showdown in Round 8 against North Tamworth.

First Division features 15 regular season rounds before a four-week finals series, culminating in the grand final on September 10.

Second Division has reduced in size from 13 to 11 teams following the withdrawal of Quirindi and elevation of Wee Waa.

The Shield consists of a 22-week season (including two byes per team), starting on March 18 and culminating in the grand final on September 9.

Sunday’s meeting also saw the competition formally adopt the new Country Rugby League constitution and elect an inaugural board of directors.

Mick Schmiedel, Peter Blom, Ray McCoy, Michael Gleeson, Michael Hines, Lindsay Bowne and Barry Pratten were elected as directors.

Schmiedel, the incumbent Group 4 president, was then elected as chairman, with Blom the public officer.