By Les Muir

WITH D-DAY approaching, Cootamundra’s flagging rugby league fortunes are unlikely to lead to the Bulldogs being booted out of the Group Nine premiership this year.

At a time when Cootamundra is struggling for players across all the grades, including Leaguetag, Group Nine operations manager Peter Ryan is fiercely determined to keep the club in the Group Nine fold.

 “No one wants to see them (Cootamundra) not playing (in 2016),” Ryan said on Tuesday.

“It wouldn’t be any good for Cootamundra to be out of the competition for one or two years as they rebuild.

“People would lose interest, and the players would go and play something else.”

Despite Ryan’s staunch support for the embattled club, even he admits Cootamundra’s ailing position is a “big concern”.

“They seem to be in a bit of trouble,” Ryan said.

“We have to try to find out how much (trouble).”

Significantly, Cootamundra’s precarious state will be in the glare of the spotlight at a full Group Nine meeting on March 2.

Ryan said all clubs would be required at the general meeting to publicly declare the number of teams they would field in 2016.

“They (clubs) have to say whether they will have five teams or four teams or whatever,” he said.

While the majority of the 11 clubs are expected to nominate five teams for 2016, there are fears the Bulldogs may have only two teams – first grade and only one junior grade.

It is understood Cootamundra will struggle to have sufficient players for reserve grade and an exodus of female players has also cast a cloud over Leaguetag.

Ryan is adamant Cootamundra’s fate could ultimately fall to the other 10 clubs.

“There might have to be a special meeting, maybe extraordinary general meeting, and it could be put to the clubs,” Ryan said.

For Cootamundra, the off-season has been a disaster, with a growing list of senior players, including Matt Forsyth, Grant Boyd, Shannon Rupapere and Luke Berkrey, cutting ties with the club.

Compounding the drama has been a delay in signing a first grade coach.

The Bulldogs originally secured Hayden Crockett, but the deal fell through, and doubt has now been cast on the prospect of Jade Williams taking over.


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