Cobar Roosters offered chance to return to Group 11 rugby league after two-year absence

CHARGE: Tim Hillam, pictured in action when Cobar played Group 11, was the Barwon Darling League's leading try-scorer in 2017. Photo: FILE
CHARGE: Tim Hillam, pictured in action when Cobar played Group 11, was the Barwon Darling League's leading try-scorer in 2017. Photo: FILE

Group 11 is considering going against its own constitution to allow to the Cobar Roosters to return to the competition in 2018.

The Roosters had enjoyed a proud history in Group 11 before a lack of numbers forced them to move to the Barwon Darling League in 2016.

After the Roosters’ recent proposal to move to the Castlereagh League for 2018 was knocked back, the club was approached by Group 11 to gather information on their situation.

The club would be unable to field a Group 11 first grade side at this stage but the board may allow the Roosters to play in the reserve grade, under 18s and league competitions.

“It certainly is exciting,” Roosters president Chris Deighton said.

“Group 11 is popular out here and a lot of people want to get back but we only want to go if we’re going to stay there.

“I don’t want to be known as the club which moves from Group to Group. Once we move we’re going to settle there long-term.”

In a letter to each Group 11 club, competition president Derrick Hoe stated while it went against the constitution "we should do what we can to support any club trying to revive football in their town".

"Given Cobar have in the past been a part of Group 11 we would like to see what we do to bring them into the competition next year," he stated.

"I know this has budget implications for clubs but as a Group we need to seriously consider supporting Cobar and show we are serious about supporting Cobar players who want to play rugby league."

The biggest thing for Cobar is its junior situation. Deighton said the junior has "struggled" in recent times so a gap can develop between the current under 18s squad and those coming through.

While Hoe is waiting on replies from the clubs to gauge a level of interest in Cobar returning to Group 11, Deighton said his club also has much to do before a comeback is confirmed.

"We've got to work on what we can do for the 18s in the next couple of years so we can be competitive," he said.

We've got to sit down and have a conversation to see what is the best for our club.

Cobar president Chris Deighton

"Going off our past, we (deserve to be in Group 11) and at the moment we've got a handy side with some young guys coming through.

"And I think we'd attract more players if we were playing in Group 11 because it's a very strong and professional competition, that's one of the best things about it.

"But we've got to sit down and have a conversation to see what is the best for our club in the long term."

If the Roosters were to return next year, it would mean a bye would have to come into the competition while clubs playing Cobar each week wouldn't have a first grade fixture.

The plan for the Roosters would be to develop a competitive first grade outfit within a few years.

Deighton said his club wants to work closely with other sports in Cobar, namely the Camels rugby union side and the netball competition, to ensure a positive outcome for all.

The fact Group 11 matches are played on Sunday would mean club members could still play netball or union on the Saturday and not have to choose one sport over the other.

"At the end of the day we all want to play footy and bush footy is dying, there's no denying that, so we all need to work together to do what we can," Deighton said.

“That’s not just us, that’s the CRL and NRL too.”

The Roosters last played in Group 11 in 2015 and finished that season with just one win in first grade and five wins in total across the four grades.