Smithtown back in the rugby league fold

SIXTEEN years after dropping off the Group 2 radar the Smithtown club will return to senior rugby league from the beginning of the 2009 season.

Months of rumours have ended with the club accepted into the Hastings League competition, despite multiple denials to Group 2 chairman Greg Mayhew that such a path was planned.

But the club won't be allowed to retain their traditional colours and identity with the Tigers brand and playing strip already in the keeping of the Comboyne club.

Instead, Smithtown will be known as the Magpies and wear a black and white strip similar to that worn by Bellingen.

The new club will not be subject to direct Group 2 control as the Hastings League was granted 'Cup' status by Country Rugby League during 2008 but the Group will have some say as Smithtown must be affiliated with a senior league team, most likely to be Macleay Valley.

Also, the club has a strong junior league base playing in Group 2 Beautizone.

Matches will be played at Smithtown Oval on Saturday afternoons and former international prop Jim Murphy has been confirmed as coach.

As a senior club, Smithtown Tigers were one of the most successful during the 1960s and '70s and were famous for being runner-up to Sawtell in the landmark 1978 grand final.

The club later fell on hard times and withdrew from the Group 2 premiership midway through 1993, before becoming part of the delegation which formed Macleay Valley Mustangs later that year.

However the relationship has often been testy between the rival administrators and insiders are quietly tipping plenty of fireworks in coming months. 

IN other news, Gold Coast Titans coach John Cartwright has declared an interest in coaching the Kangaroos following the departure of Ricky Stuart.

“If the ARL asked me to do it, it's something I don't think I could knock back,” he said.

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