REBELS utility Sam Clune will know Newcastle's upcoming NSW Country Championships opponents and venue better than most. The former Illawarra South Coast representative, as recent as two years ago, comes up against old teammates on familiar territory when the Novocastrians travel to Collegians Sports Stadium on Saturday (3:30pm). Clune, approaching his second season at Cessnock, says he feels "proud" to have earned both jerseys. Maitland forward Lincoln Smith has been called up for round two, replacing injured second-rower Wyatt Shaw (back). Jack Welsh took an early guilty plea this week and escaped suspension. Western Rams, Northern River Titans and Riverina Bulls are already through to semis next weekend. The final is scheduled for March 25. Meanwhile, Mark Singleton has taken over as Newcastle RL chairman with John Crooks stepping aside from that role but continuing on the board. IN THE NEWS: To see more stories and read today's paper download the Newcastle Herald news app here.