NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 21: Nathan Ross of the Knights in action during the round 19 NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Gold Coast Titans at McDonald Jones Stadium on July 21, 2018 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

The Newcastle rugby league competition are set to gain more ex-NRL experience in 2024, with the confirmation that Western Suburbs have signed Nathan Ross, and are angling for the signing of Will Smith.

Smith is yet to put pen to paper with the club - known locally as the Rosellas - but it's understood that so long as an NRL deal doesn't materialise in the coming weeks, he will link up with the club.

If Smith does join the club, having last played NRL for the Wests Tigers in 2023 where he had just four appearances, it will see him create an all ex-NRL halves combination with Luke Walsh, who played 244 top level games across Australia and England, although is most well known for his 107-game stint with the Penrith Panthers between 2009 and 2013.

That's according to a Newcastle Herald report, who also claim former Knights' cult hero Nathan Ross has already signed.

Ross scored 23 tries in his 60 NRL games before being forced into a medical retirement, but has been playing local rugby league since 2021.

Stone confirmed to the publication that Ross had trained with the club this week.

Western Suburbs are coached by Rick Stone who himself is a former NRL coach, having spent time in charge of the Knights between 2009 and 2011, and again in 2015, before having a three-year stint with the Huddersfield Giants. He also more recently coached the Sydney Roosters NRLW team and the Burleigh Bears in the QLD Cup.

The competition will also see Blake Austin join in 2024, having signed for the Lakes Entrnace Tigers recently.

The Maitland Pickers won the 2023 competition, defeating the South Newcastle Lions, while the competition's teams also compete in the presidents cup, and supply players to the Newcastle side who compete in the Country Championships.