SOUTHS and Cessnock have swapped halves for next Newcastle Rugby League season. Sam Clune has signed for the Lions and Angus Ernst with the Goannas, basically trading places in 2024 after twice lining up against each other during this year's finals series. Clune, brother of former Knights player Adam, is poised to start pre-season training with Souths on Tuesday having recently put pen to paper after two campaigns at Cessnock. The five-eighth was also part of a successful Rebels representative squad in 2023 before being picked for NSW Country. "He [Clune] is a very handy addition. Young fellow, super cool under pressure and kicks goals. A lot of strings to the bow," Souths president Steve Young said. Hunter-bred halfback Ernst, previously part of the Cronulla junior ranks, helped steer Souths to a Newcastle RL decider three months ago but will now sport different colours in the Coalfields next season. Lions utility Jarom Haines (Kurri) has also departed, long-serving prop Brendon Simpson retired and winger Jacob Afflick (France) is playing overseas. Souths welcome the return of Travis Petersen in 2024 following this year's Jersey Flegg cameo for Sydney side the Rabbitohs. The Lions have also recruited forward Matt Moon (Macquarie) while Frank-Paul Nu'uausala continues at Townson Oval for a third campaign.