Grasshoppers to run with the Lions

QUIRINDI has hopped up to Group 4 following an arrangement that will see the club  play reserve grade for the West Tamworth Lions this season.

Group 4 voted the move in on Monday night, before the two committees met on Tuesday night.

At the same meeting it was made public that Bingara will not be entering a side into the second division competition.

The Bullets could not get the numbers together to guarantee a side each week and will now join neighbours Warialda in the rugby league wilderness.

The two sides combined last year and ended up in the Group 19 grand final, although apparently that relationship can no longer work.

Second Division will still kick off this weekend after it was decided not to do the draw up again.

The comp will now have two byes every round, although Group 4 will have no byes.

Group 4 secretary Mick Schmiedel said that Quirindi Grasshoppers joining Group 4 guarantees  all six clubs will have a reserve grade.

It also means that all clubs will have a women’s league tag side, with the Quirindi girls joining Wests as well.

Quirindi president Kelly Tickle said that the move was going to be beneficial for both clubs.

The Hoppers will not lose their identity, although it is not decided if the side will be called West or stay with Quirindi.

“We will play in full West strip for home games and our Quirindi strip for away games,” Tickle said.

Quirindi will also host two home games for all four grades, but otherwise will play out of Scully Park.

The agreement also allows for West coach Chris Hunt to call on Quirindi players to play in the top grade.

“Players can be called up to firsts but will not play full time,” Tickle said.

Mark Austin will remain as coach, with the first full club training scheduled for tonight.

Coincidentally, not one of the Quirindi players lives in Quirindi.

“The side was training in Tamworth as it was,” Tickle said.

The relationship also stretches to the committee.

West struggled to get a committee together at the start of the season and  is still short on numbers.

“Both committees are going to work together for the season and some of our committee will go on with West,” Tickle said.

At the end of the season the two clubs are going to sit down again to decide the future of the venture.

“The club will be very competitive in both grades,” Tickle said.

The second division kicks off this weekend but the two clubs will have to wait until the Wests Knockout the following weekend to play together.

Sunday April 27 will see the Group 4 season proper get underway, with a huge Tamworth derby as favourites North Tamworth hosts premiers West Lions.

New Tamworth side Oxley will travel to Gunnedah and another derby will see Wee Waa host Narrabri.

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