A chat between two former teammates has led to one of the biggest moves of the Peter McDonald Premiership off-season.
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Mitch Andrews, a former NSW Country representative and two-time premiership with the Forbes Magpies, has confirmed a switch from his hometown club to Bathurst St Pat's.
The path from Forbes to St Pat's has been well-trodden over the years - the pre-season Stubby Collitts Shield honoured a young man who played for both clubs - while Zac Merritt and Hayden Bolam have played in blue and white in more recent seasons.
Bolam and Andrews were both part of Forbes' 2015 premiership-winning side, along with Merritt, and it was a conversation between the pair which planted the idea of a switch.
"He (Bolam) had a chat to me and I didn't mind the idea of having a change and a change of scenery," Andrews said.
"And not getting complacent at Forbes ... I've been back in Forbes for four years and it's been good but there's the chance to play footy with a few boys over there who I've played a bit of footy with, I'm keen for that."
Andrews co-coached the Magpies alongside Nick Greenhalgh during a frustrating 2023 season.
After winning the inaugural PMP in 2022, the Magpies finished with the Group 11 pool's wooden spoon this year.
Star fullback Andrews and halfback Greenhalgh quickly signalled their intention to not coach again, but the decision to leave the club wasn't such an easy one for the star outside back.
With a young family and employment at Forbes there was much to consider while the Magpies have been quick to confirm premiership-winning mentor Cameron Greenhalgh was back at the helm for 2024.
"It was tough to move but excited to see what the new year brings in Bathurst. I'm not excited about the cold but everything else I'm keen for," Andrews laughed.
He also laughed while discussing the prospect of playing his former club in 2024.
The draw for next year has not been completed yet and there's no certainty the two sides will meet, but Andrews is all too aware it will mean plenty of fireworks if they do go head-to-head.
"It will depend where we play. If we play in Forbes I'll probably cop a good reception," he said.
"But it will be good. You take whatever happens on the field and it's just a game of footy. It could be 13 on one when we play Forbes though."
The Bathurst club will celebrate its 80th anniversary next season and there's plenty of motivation to mark the milestone with premiership success.
Andrews' signing is a real step towards helping make that happen and the 2016 and 2022 title-winner is eager to do his bit.
"It would be awesome to go there and, it's always the ultimate goal, win a comp with them and give a lot of those boys who haven't spent a lot of time in finals and grand finals that," Andrews said.
"It would be ideal to go all the way but as long as all the boys are good fellas and we make semis and whatever happens from there, happens."
St Pat's president Garry Goldsmith said the club was delighted to secure the signing of one of the best players in the competition.
"We're thrilled to have Mitch," he said.
"He's a highly-credentialed footballer and held in very high regard across country rugby league.
"Bathurst St Pat's and the Forbes Magpies have a good bond and we've had some really good footballers come over to us."
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