The Maitland Pickers are set to unveil several more of their star signings including Brock Lamb and Chad O'Donnell in Saturday's trial against Wyong at the Maitland Sportsground.
However, the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs are still waiting on final clearance for former NRL prop Frank-Paul Nuuausala from the Singleton Greyhounds for their trial against the Toukley Hawks at Kurri Kurri Sportsground.
After winning the Hunter Valley Nines trophy, the Pickers are warming into the 13-man game with Saturday's trial and seven players involved in the Newcastle All Stars representative game at Charlestown on March 21.
O'Donnell and Lamb will be joined by Pat Mata'utia, Alex Langbridge and Jayden Butterfield in the Newcastle All Stars team and youngsters Greg Morris and Gary Anderson are in the Indigenous All Stars team.
The Pickers will take a first grade squad of 20 into Saturday's trial, supplemented by up to seven players from the reserve grade match.
Pickers coach Matt Lantry said Alex and Daniel Langbridge were both at the national touch football titles and Peter Wilson, who came across to Maitland from Cessnock, had work commitments.
On the injury front former Wests Rosellas player Willis Alatini is still on the comeback trail from knee reconstruction and Senn Kane, from the Wests Tigers, is recovering from a broken foot and is hoped to be available for the Pickers final trial match on April 4.
"This week's squad of 27 will be cut to 21 or22 for the next trial on March 28, with the view of a squad of 17 to 18 for the last trial against South Newcastle," Lantry said.
"It's a Catch 22, you want to see them perform well as a team but I'm not overly concerned about how we perform as a team because there's a whole heap of new players who will play.
"I'm looking for guys who can consistently handle playing at this level and, in particular, the guys who are getting an opportunity for the first time to play first grade or who are making their way back through first grade after a few years in the lower grades.
"Just the little things in the game you want to see done well. You want to see us defend well, control the ruck well, work hard for each other, support the ball carrier and work hard in all areas of the defensive components of the game.
"We're not going to have a 10-out-of-10 performance on the weekend with so many new combinations but I'd like to think we are giving everyone an equal crack at putting their best performance forward individually to see if they can hang onto a spot for that next first grade trial."
Games kick off at 9am with the Ladies League Tag, Under-19s are at 10am, third grade 11.30am, reserve grade 1pm and first grade 2.30pm.
The Bulldogs will also take an extended squad into their trial against Toukley.
"We're hopeful that Frank-Paul (Nuuausala) will be available, but it's taken a bit longer to finalise things with Singleton," Bulldogs coach Mitch Cullen said.
"Most of our other recruits will be playing. Geordie Connelly, Shay Padburg and Henry Penn will all be playing but Kyle Ward won't be available this week.
"This is our first real hit-up so everyone is super keen. It's very much about getting some yards into their legs. Things step up another level with the Charity Shield against the Goannas at Kurri this year on March 28."
It will be a full day of games at Kurri Kurri on Saturday with the Ladies League team taking on Nelson Bay from 10.30am, followed by the Under-19s also against Nelson Bay at 11.30am.
Third to first grade will face the Toukley Hawks, with the main game at 4pm.