Eagles crash land

GROUP Three Rugby League secretary Barrie Smith believes the competition has outgrown the Camden Haven club.

Mr Smith was speaking in the wake of Camden Haven's decision to withdraw from the 2014 premiership. The Eagles were originally voted out of the competition at the group's annual meeting last November. However, after forming a new committee Camden Haven appealed the decision to the Country Rugby League and were given permission to play. The club appointed coaches but poor roll ups at pre-season training session forced the club to make the decision on Tuesday night. Mr Smith attended the session and said only three under 18 players turned up.

He concedes there's little hope of Camden Haven returning to Group Three in the immediate future.

There are three clubs in the Camden Haven area, the Eagles along with Hastings League clubs Kendall and Lake Cathie.

"Players there seem to prefer a competition that is less demanding than Group Three,'' Mr Smith said.

"We've had some pretty intense clubs in Group Three in the past few years and I think we've outgrown Camden Haven.''

Mr Smith said club officials have expressed concern at the impact will have on the Camden Haven Junior League. Players will have no under 18 'home' side to graduate to once they leave the under 16s. They will have to head to one of the Port Macquarie-based clubs or Wauchope.

"The group has given Camden Haven every opportunity,'' Mr Smith said.

Two years ago the club was given permission to field just an under 18 side. Last season Camden Haven had 18s, women's league tag and reserve grade. However, with eight other clubs now involved in Group Three allowing Camden Haven to play without the full complement of grades would cause difficulties with the draw.

Mr Smith pointed out that Camden Haven's problems haven't emerged overnight.

"If you talk to (former Country Rugby League and Group Three president) Warren Kimberley they go back to 1956,'' he said.

"They seem to regroup and have a couple of good years and then spend eight or more in the wilderness.''

Camden Haven won back-to-back premierships in 2005/06 and in 05 the club won the first and reserve grade titles and were grand finalists in under 18s. However, th Eagles were forced to withdraw in 2007 because of the loss of players and have struggled since.

The Eagles made the 1988 grand final but withdrew midway through the season in 1990. This was the catalyst for acrimonious split between Group Three and the then Group Three Saturday League that lasted until Group Three was revamped in 1995.

Mr Smith said Camden Haven's current officials are discussing the possibility of fielding a team in the one-grade Hastings League. However, this won't happen in 2014.

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