Darlington Mowden Park will have Newcastle Falcons’ longest-serving player, Matt Thompson, on loan for the start of their National One campaign.
The 31-year-old hooker, who was in the England Saxons squad in 2007, has fallen down the pecking order at Kingston Park, but the Falcons will be able to recall him at any time.
He is the son of the club’s former owner, Dave Thompson, and both took a keen interest in the late season drama as Mowden clinched promotion from National Two North.
Although only three other players, Zylon McGaffin, Pierce Phillips and Josh Bayford, have moved on, Mowden have since lost both their first-choice hookers.
Ross Doneghan has gone to join his brother at London Scottish and Ross White has work commitments.
Other hookers have been signed, including Richie Thirkell from Horden, but he is injured so Thompson seems certain to start in Saturday’s opening match at home to Blaydon.
Despite agreeing to re-enter the much-maligned Durham Cup, Mowden were obliged to forfeit Saturday’s first round tie at home to Horden.
As they were giving priority to their final pre-season match against Hull Ionians, they offered Horden the chance to play on the main pitch at the Northern Echo Arena at either 12.30 or 5pm.
Agreement could not be reached and the county decided to put Horden through to the semi-finals. They will be joined by Consett, who won their home match against Darlington 45-31.
Stockton lost their Durham Intermediate Cup tie 38-5 against Gateshead, despite impressive performances from former Middlesbrough No 8 Jack Aldus and another newcomer, fly half Jonny Horner.
Stockton led through a try by prop Mark Conway but were 12-5 down at half-time then conceded four tries in 15 minutes. The sides meet again in the opening league game at Stockton this week.