Macleay option for junior league

GROUP Three Junior Rugby League would consider the possibility of Macleay Valley joining the competition, according to president Kevin Hardy of Taree.

Macleay's junior sides remain in Group Two even though the club's senior teams now play in Group Three.

This is similar to the situation that existed with the Port Sharks up until last year, when the Sharks seniors were in Group Two and the juniors in Group Three. Port seniors returned to Group Three in 2013.

Mr Hardy said the prospect of Macleay moving into Group Three hasn't been discussed yet at any level.

"But we're open to all options in Group Three,'' he said.

"We wouldn't shut the door on anything.''

There is concern about the fall off in junior teams in the Group Two area. There's no under 15s this year because of a lack of sides.

Mr Hardy understands some players from Kempsey are already turning out for Port Macquarie-based clubs in Group Three. There are six under 15 sides in Group Three.

Unlike the senior league, boundaries for the junior competitions have not changed, meaning the Group Two juniors stretch from Kempsey to Woolgoolga. Grafton clubs now play in the Group Two senior league. Mr Hardy is unsure if there is any talk of the Grafton junior sides also moving south.

However, Mr Hardy is confident that if Kempsey sides were admitted the group wouldn't lose players because of the extra travel involved.

"Our mini and mod (under sixes to nines) would play north/south, the same as they do now,'' he said.

"And we have enough teams from under 10s, 11s and 12s to play north/south as well, so that would be a possibility.

"So that would mean we'd only play a full competition from under 13s to 16s. It's not such a long trip from Forster to Kempsey now and the clubs would only have to do it once a year with the way our draw works.''

Mr Hardy expects to talk to area regional manager Kevin Hill about junior league boundaries at some stage this year.

"Obviously Macleay would want to come into our competition before we could even speak about it,'' he said.

"But if that's the case we'll give it a fair hearing. We're only here to do what's best for rugby league.''

The junior league is currently in recess for the school holidays. Play will resume on Saturday, May 3.

Meanwhile the opening round of the Group Three senior league will be played this weekend.

This will mark Macleay Valley's official entry into the competition.

The Mustangs will host Old Bar Pirates on Sunday.

Macleay were runners up to Wingham in the Group Three pre-season.

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