CALL TO ARMS: Magpies send out plea for players
RUGBY LEAGUE: If the Lower Clarence Magpies are to stay alive in the NRRRL this season, president John Elisaia says it comes down to the "C” word.
It is a crucial facet of the game the club has lacked in recent seasons. Dwindling player numbers forced them to pull out of senior grades in 2016, and last year more than half the squad was forced to play two games each Sunday.
But they were not lone incidents. Already the lack of commitment for this season is evident with Grant Brown the only player to properly sign on with the black and whites.
Elisaia took to social media yesterday to try to motivate the Magpies faithful into action, to spur players to return when the club kicks off its pre-season on Sunday.
"A lot of guys are just waiting to see who turns up before they make a move. Unfortunately the reality is if we don't get on the front foot there might not be a future,” he said.
"There are a lot of initiatives the new committee has put in place to show the players we are willing to look after them, but they are going to have to put in to earn those.
"It is not about the handout mentality anymore. If you want in you have to commit and earn your place.
"In the past, some players have shown no effort to put in but still turned up on Sunday to get paid. That is not how it is going to work this season.”
Brown is the man that Elisaia hopes will spearhead this new expectation after the second-rower played for "peanuts” last season just to come home. Magpies stalwart Ray Mercy is another player who might be making a return for the club this season after showing an interest this year.
"A lot of people will say he is getting on but he is one of those leaders in the community that young people will look up to,” Elisaia said.
"We need that respect in the club. To be honest everyone talks about culture, I hate that word. It is about commitment, you can't have a culture without the commitment first. Eventually someone has to say enough is enough, put their hand up to have a go and the other blokes will follow them.”
Elisaia praised the committee that went before them but said changes had to be made to the way they approached the game to keep the club stable. That includes not chasing players to put them on big money contracts.
"I would love to be able to splurge out the cash to keep some of our bigger names or even attract some marquees, but we can't do it,” he said.
Instead Elisaia will be pushing the current crop of rugby league players to make sure they come out and support the future of the club. The Magpies first pre-season training run is at Brooms Head Beach at 10am.