The Gunnedah Red Devils Rugby Union Club marked the start of its 2024 season campaign with the traditional jersey auction this month.

Returned club president Bruce Hockings applauded the support from sponsors and the local community.

“I’m really pleased with the response,” he said. “The generosity of our sponsors is amazing.

“We are very lucky to have such a loyal group of supporters.”

The men’s first grade side finished third in the Central North premiership last season and second the year prior in 2022.

Hockings said consistency would be key to success for the side this year.

“We were undefeated the first [half] of the season last year,” he said.

“Then dropped off toward the end.”

The president said the Devils showed the potential to win the final when within reach of the 2023 premiers, Moree, in their last game of the season.

He was confident they had the resolve to deliver another good showing this year, led by new coach and 2023 Red Devils captain, James Perrett.

The talented tactician and fullback was injured last season but has returned to lead the side from the sidelines this year instead.

“Realistically he can’t play anymore but he just loves rugby,” Hockings said. “It’s great to have him on board.”

The successful rugby union outfit will be supported by men’s assistant coaches Angus Frend and Richard Avendano as well as women’s coach Derek Henning.

With good player numbers returning for pre-season training – about 40 on a hot February evening – hopes are high for added success this year.

The Gunnedah club has scheduled a series of trial matches before the regular season starts in April.

The Devils have planned a three-way trial with Coonabarabran and Dubbo on March 13 and another trial against Tamworth Magpies.

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