Peak Downs Pirates break through Springsure Mountain Men’s defence earlier this year.
Peak Downs Pirates break through Springsure Mountain Men’s defence earlier this year.

League on the brink

THERE is a stir rumbling in the Central Highlands Rugby League ranks and president Pat Booker is searching for answers.

In the senior competition the situation could not be more dire with two weekend forfeits on Saturday signalling the need for a major shake-up in the competition for the 2012 season.

Already, preliminary talks with clubs have started and the overwhelming response so far has been that “travel is killing them”, according to Booker.

“Clubs don’t want double-header games,” she said.

Much of the problem arose as clubs were forced to travel long distances for regular season games at neutral venues.

Clubs were struggling to field sides at the best of times and additional away games only prolonged the agony.

Booker said change was needed sooner rather than later and this weekend she’s tackling the issue head-on, touring the Highlands’ matches seeking input.

“We’ve got to work out how we’re going to get the game going again and get games played every weekend,” she said.

Booker said the committee was opening up all possibilities, including the option of playing some or all games on Sunday afternoon rather than Saturday evenings.

Clubs forced to concede a forfeit due to a lack of player availability were slugged with more than a competition points deficit as they also incurred heavy fines imposed by the Central Highlands Rugby League.

The host club was also left with a loss in revenue from the cancelled match.

Already this season, the Central Highlands has farewelled one senior club from the competition, the Gemfields Giants.

Last season they struggled to put players on the pitch and with little support again this year, the Giants were forced to fold.

While the situation was grim, Booker was optimistic their fortunes could change and wanted to do everything in her power to ensure no more clubs were lost.

“Whatever it takes. If it’s going to make football thrive in the region and keep teams in the competition then we want to know,” she said.

JUNIORS are not out of the picture either with pre-season development squads ear-marked for the Central Highlands junior competition from next year.

The plan is for clubs to be divided into “northern” and “southern” leagues during the pre-season based on their location.

They will train part of the year in their own regional conference before coming together.

The sessions will focus on skills and drills and will be open for players 12 to 17 years old, with gym and nutritional programs offered to those 15 years and older.

“It’s all pre-season and purely developmental,” Central Highlands coaching and development officer Andrew Lawrence said.

The last sessions will conclude with trial games played between the zones.

“We don’t want to add too much to it because the kids do enough training in the off-season with other sports as it is,” Lawrence said.

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