MID North Coast zone appear likely to drop out of the Country Rugby Union championships.
The Axemen only returned to the series this year following a two-year hiatus but zone administrator Des Hoy believes players living on the coast are still not keen on the early season training required and this will force the issue.
“As we have said many times the summer weather, the beach and carry over from the cricket season means our blokes aren’t ready at the start of the year when the titles are held,” he said.
“It was tried again this year and we actually had Karnunny Pearce chosen in the Country Colts side but the opens were not able to compete with the inland sides that train for this all year.
“The zone has the quality players to put in a decent bid.
"Talent is not the problem but timing is everything, and if the rep stuff came after the finals it would be better for us.”
To illustrate, fewer than half the original representative selections were still in first grade by the time the grand final arrived.
The squad was missing many of the better players like Will Guest, AJ McLauchlan and Faavae Suaesi of Coffs Rugby, and David Tunstead, Adam McCormack and Tom Hetherington of Hastings Valley.
Hoy said a final decision will be made at the full zone meeting on September 11.
“At that meeting the first draft of the competition draw for 2012 will be released with the possibility of amendments if further sides come into first grade,” he said.
“While the four-team set-up worked better than expected, obviously it’s not the ideal.
“And it’s highly important the under-19 competition is improved, especially by getting Coffs Harbour back on the field in that grade.”
Hoy ruled out any chance of a one-off meeting between the northern and southern conference premiers coming to fruition.
“It would be nice to play the game as a promotion for rugby but without being biased, the Coffs side would win easily,” he said.
“Old Bar Clams play a very disciplined and structured style of rugby and I can see them cancelling each other out in the forwards.
“But Coffs has far too much pace out wide and the score could be a big one if the ball was thrown about.
“So that one will be held over for at least another year.”