Rotterdam Pitbulls begin the defence of their NRLB title this weekend when they face newcomers Harderwijk Dolphins. In the other match to open proceedings, Amsterdam Cobras play host to Den Haag Knights.
This season the teams will meet each other home and away for the Minor Premiership with the top two then contesting the Championship title and the others battling for third place in a double-header Grand Final, in Rotterdam on 10 June.
NRLB development officer Jason Bruygoms, who is also player/coach of the of the Pitbulls said at the season launch: “After an undefeated 2016 season, our main focus is to retain our title and, with more challenges than last year, we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Lou Benders of the Amsterdam Cobras commented: “Having trained all year round and played winter games which were lots of fun, the guys have grown and improved as a team. We also have some fresh new talent and now a steady base of league-only players to hopefully compete for a place in the top two.”
“We are really eager to get started,” noted Adam Bakker of Harderwijk Dolphins. “We might not have the experience or size compared to the other teams but we want to show our competitiveness, passion, great team spirit and fit and fast players. Our ambition is to end up at least third in the competition and make sure that every opponent has to give it their best to beat us.”
Den Haag Knights are looking to set up a members scheme with the aim of making them the best supported club in the country. Stalwart Ian Thompson commented: “With two Grand Final defeats behind us in three years, the club is aiming to go one better in 2017.”
Thijs van der Zouwen, chairman of the Nederlandse Rugby League Bond added: “The NRLB is very excited about the upcoming season. We’ll have more games than ever before. It promises to be close with Amsterdam and Harderwijk making progress in the off-season and ready to take on traditional strongholds Rotterdam and The Hague.”