NORTH Tamworth is back on the football field today for the first time since its Group 4 grand final defeat as its big pre-season schedule begins on home soil.
Group 21 side Greta-Branxton comes to Jack Woolaston Oval today but the main pre-season event is a four-team tournament on March 16 and 17.
The draw for that event has been done and the Bears will get a look at its first-round premiership opponent Wee Waa on day one of the carnival.
The Saturday begins with the Bears U18s taking on Scone from noon.
At 1.30 the first top grade game kicks off, with Scone taking on Gunnedah, while the North/Wee Waa clash will follow.
The winners of those games will meet in the final on Sunday and the losers will play off for third.
The Bears reserves are also in action in the Sunday curtainraiser against Dungowan.
Former NRL star Mario Fenech will be a special guest on the Sunday.
“Any South supporters, or anyone else, can come and see him,” Woolaston said.
“We’re also asking any fans who come to the games to wear the jersey of the teams they follow to add a bit of colour.”
2000 tickets have been given out and those with a ticket will get in for free.
Anyone without a ticket is also welcome but will pay $5 at the gate each day.
Tonight’s game kicks off at 5.30pm.
It will be a chance for new signings like Marshall Barker to have a run alongside their new teammates.
“It will be good for the boys to have a hit-out,” Bears coach Brad McManus said.
“They’re bringing 20.
“I don’t know what they’ll bring but it should be good.
“We’ve played a trial against them the last couple of years.”
Others who are joining the Bears are Cecil Craigie from Moree and Bareki Knox and Jay Ramirez from West Lions.
McManus also hopes Jace Wallington will be back in red and black after a year off.
Senior numbers are good and both first and reserve grade will get plenty of game time in the pre-season.
North reserves have a trial against Barraba booked in for next Saturday.
The Bears firsts and reserves will also play in the Wests Knockout on April 6/7 before starting the premiership at Wee Waa on the weekend of April 20/21.
McManus said he was also looking for one more trial before the KO if any teams are interested.