Group 4 president Ray McCoy has described the Collegian Warriors’ shock withdrawal from all competitions in 2018 as a natural byproduct of the rugby league transformation taking place.
It was revealed last Friday that Collegian’s short-lived participation in Group 4 was over, at least for now, after they failed to attract enough players following last year’s decision the overhaul the senior competitions.
McCoy said the main goal of the CRL-backed restructuring was to inject first grade with quality players from the now-defunct Second Division, and that had been achieved.
He said Collegian had suffered because the four clubs promoted to first grade – Boggabri, Werris Creek, Bendemeer and Kootingal-Moonbi – had ramped up player recruitment.
“Not really, no,” McCoy replied bluntly when it was suggested Collegian’s demise was a blow.
He added: “I’m not being blasé … We heralded the restructure back at the end of 2017. And at the end of the day we knew there was going to be change within all the clubs.
“And the bottom line of that is every player is a free agent. They make the choice year by year as to where they go and what they do.”
McCoy said Mick Schmiedel’s decision to stand down as Warriors president at the end of last season, to concentrate on a new junior development role with the CRL, had also impacted negatively on the club.
The Warriors were formally called the Oxley Diggers but were rebranded after Wests Entertainment Group ended its sponsorship deal with Group 4 following the 2016 grand final disgrace. They had struggled on and off the field the past two seasons.
“They’ll come back bigger and better,” McCoy said
Collegian’s demise means there are only eight first-grade sides now, although McCoy revealed that Wee Waa had applied to have a first-grade team after initially deciding to field only reserve grade and ladies league tag sides in 2018.
Nick Weir, who was to have coached the Warriors’ first-grade side this year, said he club could not attract more the seven players across three grades to pre-season training. He doubts the club will return in 2019.
“It would appear as though the introduction of the 10-team format for the Group has unfortunately provided a lot of players in our club with an opportunity to go elsewhere,” he said.
“It’s an absolute shame, as we were a club in its relative infancy, and after last year’s successes in all grades … this year was actually set up to probably be the most successful year in the club’s existence.”
McCoy also revealed that Bundarra, the 2017 Second Division champions, had applied to enter Group 4’s reserve-grade competition after it was initially thought they would play in Group 18 this year.
Group 4 will decide on Wee Waa and Bundarra’s applications at a board meeting on February 18, he added.