It was less than 12 months ago that Joby Patten and Dan Metcalf lined up against one another on the rugby league field.
They were playing for Cessnock and Maitland respectively, donning the jerseys they wear in the above pictures.
But this Saturday afternoon at Maitland Sportsground the roles will be reversed.
Once again they will meet on opposite sides of the paddock in the Newcastle Rugby League competition, but this time around they will be wearing different colours.
Despite their differences in position, Patten and Metcalf have essentially traded places between the Coalfields clubs.
The pair will run out for their new clubs in this weekend’s sixth round clash – Patten as playmaker for the two-time defending premiers Maitland and Metcalf as second-rower for the unbeaten competition leaders Cessnock.
Throw in Pickers hooker Darcy Etrich, another Goanna from last season, and there will be a trio of players facing an immediate baptism of fire up against former teammates this weekend.
“I’d say it will be a big initiation for all three of them,” Pickers coach Ron Griffiths said.
“There is always extra spice in a Coalfields clash but this adds a bit more to it.
“They all know how each other play and I’m sure they [Cessnock] will target Joby [Patten] and Darcy [Etrich] in some way or another.”
This helps set the stage for what is already shaping as a crucial encounter between the 2010 grand finalists.
Both Maitland (6) and Cessnock (10) are inside the top four and chasing valuable competition points while the other early premiership threats, Kurri Kurri and Western Suburbs, play at the same time just 10 kilometres down the road at the Bulldogs’ home ground.
But Griffiths doesn’t see it that way and is keeping a lid on any potential hype in the Pickers’ camp with his simple approach.
“They are all exactly the same to me,” he said.
“I don’t ever see any games as must-win or vital, we just have to turn up and do what we need to do every week.”
In terms of this weekend Griffiths said the Goannas would provide tough opposition as the Pickers chase down a premiership three-peat.
“I have been out there to watch them play a couple of times and they are quite strong across the park, there isn’t really a noticeable weakness there,” he said.
“In particular they have a big forward pack and a smart six [Riley Brown] and nine [Terrance Seu Seu].
“Once their forwards get momentum the playmakers have tended to pick their opposition apart so we need to be strong in the middle of the park and nullify their attacking options.”
The biggest blow for the Pickers’ line-up is the loss of barnstorming winger Willie Poleo for the season.
Poleo left the field injured early in the second half during last week’s 40-12 win against Central Newcastle, with scans during the week revealing a torn Achilles.
Marco Delapena shifts to the wing, the same position he debuted in last season.
PJ Ellis, premiership winning captain of 2011, resumes from the bench after sitting out last week as part of his contract arrangement with Central, the team he was originally going to captain-coach in 2012 before returning to the Pickers pre-season.
Kick off is 3pm.