The reality is that Saturday's annual Charity Shield is a trial match, five weeks before the the Newcastle Rugby League season kicks off.
However, try telling that to players from under-six through to first grade and for the first time Ladies League Tag on Saturday.
Cessnock’s Sam Apthorpe and Kurri Kurri’s Jonah Lisiua have been part of the Charity Shield since under-6 and under-8s.
“I’ve been playing Charity Shield since under-8s so it’s pretty important. We take it more seriously than any other trial,” Lisiua said.
“I’ve been here since under-6s and as Jonah said it is one of the most important games of the year along with the grand final for us,” Apthorpe said.
“Cessnock and Kurri local derby is pretty important to everyone.”
Goannas coach Steve Kidd was part of the Charity Shield as a player with the Bulldogs and his son will be lining up in under-8s in the Kurri Kurri colours.
“I played plenty for Kurri and we were on the end of a few hidings there we didn't win too many,” Kidd recalled of his playing days.
“At the end of the day from a coaching point of view it's still a trial game for me.
“The result’s not overly important, it's more the effort and performance that I'm looking at. Seeing the boys put into practise some of the stuff we've been doing.
“We'll probably pick a 21-22 man squad and there will be plenty of interchanges during the game. I'm not expecting everything to go perfect as long as the effort is there and the willingness to stick to the game plan.”
The Bulldogs are likely to go into the game with a similar squad to last year’s team which made the semi-finals.
The Goannas, whose trial game against the Maitland Pickers last Saturday was washed out, will have a new-look side with no Liam Foran and the Metcalf brothers Dan and Shaun also moving on in the off-season.
“We should nearly be full strength, Jordy Worboys our halfback is probably the only one who is not available,” Kidd said.
“Jake McNamarra has been playing with the Knights in NSW Cup a bit. He is named as well we also signed Theeran Pearson who can play in the halves so it will probably be Pearson and McNamarra in the halves this week depending on if Jake’s available from the Knights.
“We've also got Jake Watts who can play halfback and hooker as well. They might all play some minutes in the halves at some stage.”
Saturday’s Charity Shield at Cessnock Sportsground kicks off at 8.30am with junior matches running throughout the day. The first grade game is scheduled for 7.30pm.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service Cessnock Volunteer Support Group will be the beneficiary of the day.
The Bulldogs’ next trial game will be against the Maitland Pickers at the Kurri Sportsground on Saturday, April 1.