Group 9 pulls the pin

Damian Willis may have played his last game for Gundagai.

Group 9 has called off its season, with the NSWRL announcing all regional competitions would be cancelled due to the Covid-19 public health orders. 

While the NSW Government has recently announced easing to some restrictions in various areas of NSW, the NSWRL was advised that the Public Health Orders do not allow for organised or competitive community sport to recommence.

The present ambiguity relating to vaccination targets and related requirements for Community Sport was another key factor considered by NSWRL before confirming the cancellation, NSWRL head of football Robert Lowrie said.

“I thank all stakeholders for their tireless efforts in trying to get community football back on the field but unfortunately it is no longer feasible,” Mr Lowrie said.

“While COVID has thrown up many challenges to our sport, there are still plenty of achievements to be proud of with a strong participation base of 108,000 players leading into 2022.

“I thank all our participants, officials, coaches and fans for their contributions this season. I urge them to stay safe, observe the COVID-19 safety guidelines and look forward to seeing them back in action in 2022.”  

Gundagai Tigers president Martin Hay said it was disappointing, but unavoidable. 

“It’s such a shame, but there’s more going on in life than a few games of football,” he said. 

“Full credit to Group 9 and Andrew Hinchcliffe, they tried really hard to get everything going, but it was just out of their hands.”

The Tigers were due to have four teams in the finals. 

“First grade were just hitting their straps, the reserves were probably unlucky not to have been the minor premiers, the 18s would have been strong, and we were really proud of the leaguetaggers for making the semis,” Mr hay said. 

“It just wasn’t to be.” 

The ongoing Covid restrictions mean the Tigers have also cancelled their annual presentation night, although trophies will still be handed out to players. 

Mr Hay said the club would now take a break before focussing on 2022. 

He said the Tigers would look much the same next year. 

“We won’t be looking to sign too many players,” he said. “We have a good nucleus of locals … we might try to get one or two,” he said. 

“I’m pretty sure Damian Willis will retire, but we should get back Jack Lyons, who was injured for most of the season.”

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