Macleay Valley captain-coach Adam McMurray may be facing an extended stint on the sidelines.
Macleay Valley captain-coach Adam McMurray may be facing an extended stint on the sidelines. LEIGH JENSEN

Coach's future in the balance

JUST when Macleay Valley looked likely to lose the tag of Group 2’s easybeat team, the Mustangs are in danger of losing captain-coach Adam McMurray for an extended period.

McMurray’s invitation to participate in the senior representative squad has been withdrawn after he twice failed to turn up for training without informing head coach Peter Denham and now faces disciplinary action by the management committee.

If no reasonable excuse can be given, under Section 55 (c) of the Model Group Constitution he can be penalised with fines or be stood down from playing club football until the representative season has been completed.

As Group 2 is participating in Country Rugby League’s second-tier schedule, any suspension could last until after July 24 when Country Seconds play Queensland Outback in a one-off game in Roma and would have enormous implications for the club.

Representative co-ordinator Greg White said the stand-down had been endorsed after consultations with acting chief administrator Peter O’Grady.

“Macleay president Mike Spalding has apologised for Adam’s non-attendance which fortunately didn’t upset the equilibrium of the team,” he said.

“We are all perplexed why he didn’t bother to inform coach Denham he wouldn’t be attending because Adam is a captain-coach himself and knows the pain in the backside it is when one of your players doesn’t front up.

“As we no longer press gang players into taking part ... they all have the option of standing aside without receiving a penalty... it’s an absurd situation as he could have asked to withdraw right up until the last minute and his wish would have been granted without any repercussions.”

McMurray didn’t attend the first session but when contacted by Denham, said he was happy to take part and would attend the next run.

“Also, I confirmed with his club there wasn’t a problem and we forwarded him the latest news release being distributed to the players,” White revealed.

After another failure to arrive, Denham said he left a message on McMurray’s mobile phone but after four days without a reply, the search began for a replacement.

“It’s now out of our hands and yesterday I spoke to (chief administrator) Jim Anderson who’s still on his way back from the Northern Territory and he advised a management meeting will discuss the matter next week,” White added.

“Our job is to continue preparing the side for the trip to Inverell on May 22 and they can work out with Adam if any further action will result.”

Denham is keeping his options on a replacement open and while McMurray was chosen as a specialist front-rower, assistant coach Darren Leaney said the feeling is to issue an invitation to another outside back.

What helps the situation is word spreading among the ranks that representation has become attractive again with two players initiating contact and asking to be considered as candidates for the ensemble.

“Pete and I are now aligned there is no actual rush to name a replacement outside back as yet, as he will be the 18th man,” he said.

“It’s even possible we could announce to the clubs there is a spot available and ask for more expressions of interest from suitable players.

“From there we can name a player on May 17 who will attend the last training session the following Wednesday when he’ll formally join the team.”

Meanwhile, Group 2 management will take the unusual step of hearing an application from Zane Gregory who wishes to become a registered Nambucca Heads player.

The original application to join the Roosters was rejected last month.

Mr Gregory was the spectator charged and later placed on a bond after entering the field of play during last season’s grand-final skirmish.

“After knocking back Mr Gregory’s application we invited him to lodge a show cause notice as to why we should re-consider his case,” Jim Anderson revealed.

“I’m a bit surprised he took us up on the offer but as Nambucca have decided to support him, we’re happy to invite him in and offer a fair hearing about his particular situation.”

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