It’s been a long time coming, but the Narrabri Eagles will finally return to the footy field in 2021 when they team up with Moree Suns to play in the AFLNW senior men’s competition.

Eagles president Tom Carberry told The Courier that last season’s proposed joint venture with the Suns, which was eventually called off when the season was postponed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, was back on this year.

The two clubs will play as one team named Narrabri Eagles and Moree Services Suns (NEMS) in a six-team competition alongside defending champions Gunnedah Bulldogs, last season’s grand finalists Tamworth Swans, their cross-town rivals Tamworth Kangaroos, Armidale-based New England Nomads and the Inverell Saints.

All of those sides will be in action when the Eagles host the annual Crossroads Cup pre-season tournament on Saturday, April 10.

The 2021 AFLNW season will get underway on Saturday, April 17 and the draw was released last week.

NEMS will take on the Nomads in round one at Moree which will be the joint venture’s first of nine home games across the 15-round season.

Five of those home games will be played in Moree and the other four will be hosted at ‘the Eagles’ nest’ Leitch Oval, including back-to-back fixtures on May 8 and May 15 in rounds four and five respectively.

NEMS will only play six away games in 2021. Two of those will be against New England and it will play away once against the other four teams.

The news that the Eagles will be back on the park in 2021 has come as music to the ears of Narrabri footy fans as well as the club itself and its loyal sponsors.

There has been no AFLNW footy played at Leitch Oval since round one of the 2019 campaign back on Saturday, April 27 that year, just weeks before the club went into recess.

Narrabri’s Australian rules football club has endured a rocky few years due to player availability, with numbers mainly impacted by injury and work commitments, as well as players relocating towns or even moving countries.

The Eagles were forced to pull out of that 2019 campaign after playing just two games.

In 2017 the club played three games before succumbing to the same fate due to the same issues.

Last year, the club was ready to roll after the joint venture with the Suns was announced, but the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to those plans.

The AFLNW season eventually went ahead later in the year which Narrabri did not compete in, with the club stating that decision was made in the best interest of its players, their families and the wider community of Narrabri in the COVID-19 pandemic.

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