NORTHWICH have announced the return of Mike Bradshaw to strengthen their front row next season.

The prop has trained with Blacks already and has impressed director of rugby Martin Poste.

"He's slotted straight back in," he told the Guardian.

"Of course a guy like him makes you stronger in that part of the field without any question; he has great technical and footballing ability and you can't have too many of those to choose from."

Bradshaw, 27, had spells with Vale of Lune and Kendal - both of them rivals for Northwich in North One West during the forthcoming campaign - last term.

Before that he switched to Lancaster from National League One side Hull Ionians.

A formidable physical presence, the former Wharfedale forward was on the field when Blacks secured promotion as champions in 2016 and again when they lifted the Cheshire RFU Vase after beating Birkenhead Park in the final 12 months later.

Poste said: "It helps him, and us, that he knows the environment he's coming into.

"That makes the transition smoother."

Meanwhile Northwich must wait to discover their first opponents of a new season.

As holders they are scheduled to visit either Sandbach or Macclesfield - who meet the previous week - in a Cheshire RFU Vase quarter-finals encounter on August 31.

A trip to Birkenhead, opponents they beat on the final afternoon of the previous campaign, follows when the league programme starts seven days later.