CROW NO MORE: Roosters withdraw from Group 2 season
RUGBY LEAGUE: An off-season player exodus has left Nambucca Heads Roosters no choice but to withdraw from the Group 2 competition this season.
The club had struggled for player numbers for most of 2018, with most of the side's senior ranks playing both reserve grade and first grade each weekend.
But it was made all the more worth it after the club clinched the Mick Pollett Cup reserve grade premiership under the guide of coach Caryl Jarrett.
It was a historic moment for the league, with Jarret the first female coach in the Group 2 senior men's ranks, and also clinching a title in her maiden season.
However the premiership was not enough to inspire more players to come out for the club, and after only seven players turned up for a pre-season session last week the hard decision was made.
Group 2 president Warren Gilkinson said he was disappointed to lose a club from the competition but the administration would work closely with the Roosters moving forward.
"They have lost a lot of players in the off-season, the completion of the highway might have had an impact on it but a heap have been cleared from the club,” he said.
"To see a club with so much talent and culture have to stand down, it is not good for the competition and it is not good for the whole Nambucca Valley
"But the new committee down there have done the right thing, they are all staying on board to rebuild the club ahead of 2020.”
Group 2 has been forced to redraw the competition, with a draft schedule expected to be released to the remaining clubs this week.
The first grade competition will still feature eight teams including a revitalised Bellingen-Dorrigo Magpies and Woolgoolga Seahorses who return after a season off the field.
Grafton Ghosts, who took out back-to-back minor premierships in 2017-18, have firmed as premiership favourites, while Coffs Harbour, Orara Valley and the Rebels are expected to be in the mix.
Gilkinson said he believed the player struggles at each club had stemmed from a lack of kids getting involved in out- of-school physical activity.
"There are a lot of groups across Country Rugby League who have faced the same issue, in fact it is right across the board in all sports,” Gilkinson said.
"It is a simple thing, you used to drive around the streets of an afternoon and see kids playing footy in the park or cricket in the streets.
"I can remember when I was at school, you used to rush home just to go out and play until the sun came down. It just isn't the same anymore.”
But with a renewed focus from NRL development officers in school and the rise of women in the sport, Gilkinson hoped it was a trend that could be reversed.