THERE will be a distinct red and black flavour to the Berry-Shoalhaven Heads Magpies during the 2020 Group Seven Rugby League season.
With the Illawarra Coal League not going ahead this season, a number of Collegians' 2019 premiership side have signed a one-year deal with Jayson Smith's Magpies.
They include last year's skipper and Milton-Ulladulla product Blake Phillips - winner of the 2014 Paul McGregor Medal.
Accompanying back-rower Phillips, who has also played for Malta on the international stage, at the Magpies in 2020 will be outside-backs Fletcher Winning, Sam McCann (also a Milton-Ulladulla junior) and Jack Butler, half/lock Jack Cross, back-rower Luke Gale and prop Matt Sheppard.
"Everyone at the club jumped at the chance to bring guys with this much pedigree to the club," coach Smith, who played alongside Phillips' father Mark at Kiama, said.
"With the Illawarra competition not going ahead, they approached the club, as they just wanted to play footy and stay fit.
"Their class was evident from the moment they stepped foot on the training park - bringing plenty of positivity and energy, which everyone has fed off.
"They all know how to play together and wins games of footy, which will no doubt help our culture, after falling away in numerous second halves last season.
"All the boys are determined to help get Berry back to where they belong and that is competing for a premiership each and every season."
The Magpies, who have also added prop PJ Thornton and outside backs Mitch Liddicoat, Mahn Darley and Christian Mosey to their 2020 roster, will open their season on Saturday at Michael Cronin Oval against the Gerringong Lions.
"As exciting as it is to have all these new players want to be a part of the club, we can't get too far ahead of ourselves," Smith said.
"It's important we set strong standards from this week against Gerringong and build on them each and every week.
"We know it's a big first-up challenge this round but we are all excited to see where we are at.
"There's a great feeling around the club at the moment and I can't wait to finally get the season kicked off."
These 11 recruits will add to a solid existing core at the Magpies of Joe Rogers, Blake Dryden, Charlie and Ollie Parrish, Billy Hayburn, Ky Sims, Louie Chilver, Caleb Robinson and Jack McPherson.
Elsewhere in round one, Jamberoo host Kiama at Kevin Walsh Oval, Warilla-Lake South welcome Shellharbour to Cec Glenholmes Oval and Stingrays take on Albion Park-Oak Flats at Flinders Field.