Numbers have fallen away since the Comets won the 2015 Under-18 premiership.
Numbers have fallen away since the Comets won the 2015 Under-18 premiership. Debrah Novak

Hard slog for rugby league clubs to fill junior rosters

GROUP 2 Rugby League's main junior feeder competition faces challenging times, with more than half the clubs known to be struggling to fill their Under-18 ranks.

Even premier club Coffs Harbour is under pressure with just 14 registrations remaining after two players who looked likely candidates moved away from the area.

To be competitive, 24 is the recognised number of players needed at Under-18 level.

"Plenty of Group 2 clubs are struggling and unfortunately the Comets are one of them," president Steve Gooley revealed.

"Orara Valley has already advised they won't be fielding a side and Macksville and South Grafton are also struggling," Gooley said.

When the Axemen withdrew, coach Brendan Pellegrino headed back to the club where he is a life member to take over the junior reins but now admits the situation has him worried.

"Some of the junior league teams may also not have enough numbers and could be forced to pull out," Pellegrino said. "That's going to really make it worse in later years for 18s."

Pellegrino named another pair of senior clubs, previously thought to be progressing well with recruitment, who he believed were battling to have a full complement of juniors.

Gooley said: "We have the nucleus of a great team and just need another 10 players in the squad.

"Club captain Scott Street, coach of the 18s last year, is also willing to assist.

"A lot of senior players have also volunteered to help, so there are excellent opportunities at our club."



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