Nambacca Roosters against Orara Axemen.
Nambacca Roosters against Orara Axemen.

Group 2 league sweating on numbers

CHIEF administrator Jim Anderson believes Group 2 rugby league management will have a clearer idea of team numbers after the first series of official trials this weekend.

While many clubs have acknowledged difficulty putting under-18 teams on the field, there is growing evidence an even greater crisis might be brewing at the reserve grade level and that two or more clubs might request permission to continue in 2011 as one-team operations.

There will be no junior grades played at two of the four venues utilised this weekend but the true picture in senior ranks will be harder to judge, with clubs traditionally mixing over-age players together to compensate for lack of numbers, rather than playing clearly defined first and second grade matches.

The situation has forced the Group to schedule another general meeting of delegates next Wednesday and while the official reason for calling the gathering is to finalise implementation of limited interchange rules, the question of player shortages is likely to take up a large slab of general business.

“We require a firm update about player numbers in the clubs’ respective grades and to set a uniform starting time for games if a club has only two sides,” Anderson said.

He also predicted no clubs would be cut, even those unable to implement their mandatory requirement of three teams.

However, there appears to be some good news coming out of the Orara and Nambucca camps. While they won’t field under-18 teams this weekend, both clubs have managed to recruit about 10 players for the season, which puts them about half-way towards a squad.

Premier club Port Macquarie has a bye until round two.

From 5pm today Sawtell and Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo will play an open grade trial, consisting of four quarters of 30 minutes, at Rex Hardaker Oval.

Tomorrow Orara Valley will host Nambucca Heads at Rex Hardaker Oval.

With no under-18 game, an open grade trial will start at 2pm.

At 2.30pm today at Advocate Park, Coffs Harbour will host Woolgoolga in all three grades.

Macksville will be at home to Macleay Valley, also in three grades, with the first match starting at noon.

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