Coach: Luke Dorn
Last Premiership: 2011
Gains: Sam Anderson (Redcliffe Dolphins - Queensland Cup), Matt Allwood (Knights - NSW Cup), Marco Delapena (Central Capras - Queensland Cup), Frazer Price (Wests), Peter Cronin (Kurri), Jarrod Smith (injury, ACL).
Losses: Luke Dorn, Dane Tilse (retired), Adam Clydsdale (Scone - Group 21), Tyrone Amey (Brisbane East - Queensland Cup), Ryan Walsh (Wests), Lincoln Smith (Cessnock).
Past Five Seasons:
2018: 4th (9 wins, 7 losses)
2017: 7th (4-12)
2016: Wooden spoon (1-1-14)
2015: Wooden spoon (3-1-10)
2014: 6th (7-9)
Q and A with coach Luke Dorn:
Q: You've now retired from playing after a decorated career, how is life with just the clipboard rather than being out in the middle?
A: "I've really enjoyed it to be honest. Obviously there's a lot more that goes on as coach, especially in local footy, that you would necessarily think. The managerial and player management side is a lot of it ... But that's been the biggest challenge, trying delegate your time to those things and making sure you get them right. The footy side of things I've really enjoyed it. I was looking forward to, as a coach, being able to influence players a little bit more."
Q: Last year finished with such mixed emotions, having a shot at the minor premiership and then bowing out in the first week of finals. What do Maitland take out of that heading into 2019?
A: "It's easy for me - 2018, in terms of the development of these players - was great. They grabbed it with their intent and ability probably quicker than I imagined or quicker then they potentially imagined. Last year was about putting some things in place with some guys in the club, change how we're perceived and how we operate as an entire club and especially as a first grade unit. This year I think the boys have come back ahead of that and they know the bare minimum of what's required. They have come back in good shape and we've really been able to accelerate our pre-season plans because of that."
Q: The loss of yourself, Dane Tilse and Adam Clydsdale leaves quite a hole in terms of experience, featuring NRL level, how do the Pickers need to deal with that?
A: "Obviously Sam [Anderson] and Pete [Cronin] come in and plug that gap in the middle left by Tilsey. Sam is a great talent and great competitor and he'll bring something very dynamic to the team. Around the middle we've got Smithy [Jarrod Smith] back, who was playing representative level before his injury, and although you don't try and replace like for like and Adam [Clydsdale] plays completely different in Smithy we have a very good No.9. I suppose in our backline there it's just about me trying to influence the guys as much as possible and trying to get the best out of everyone. We've got a good plan in place around who wants to play where and we've got Matt Allwood who will slide in and gives us a lot more strike."
Maitland were one win away from claiming the minor premiership last season, only to get knocked out in the opening week of the finals.
It was a tough way to bow out and now the Pickers have lost NRL trio Luke Dorn, coaching the squad in retirement, Dane Tilse and Adam Clydsdale.
Tyrone Amey, who played one NRL game with the Knights in 2017, was supposed to bolster Maitland's forward pack but is now up north in Queensland Cup.
They are tough holes to fill and the boys in black and white welcome the additions of Sam Anderson, Matt Allwood and rerun of Marco Delapena.
The Pickers will be hoping to go a bit deeper than they did in 2018 and will have to be at their best to challenge for the title.
Round 1 v Cessnock on April 13 (A)
Round 2 v Central on April 27 (H)
Round 3 v Wests on May 5 (H)
Round 4 v Kurri on May 18 (A)
Round 5 v Souths on May 25 (H)
Round 6 v Macquarie on June 1 (A)
Round 7 v Central on June 8 (H)
Round 8 v Wests on June 16 (A)
Round 9 v Cessnock on June 22 (H)
Round 10 v Lakes on July 7 (A)
Round 11 v Souths on July 13 (A)
Round 12 v Kurri on July 20 (H)
Round 13 v Macquarie on July 27 (H)
Round 14 v Central on August 3 (A)
Round 15 v Macquarie on August 17 (A)
Round 16 v Lakes on August 24 (H)