BULLDOGS LOSE ANOTHER STAR
By Les Muir
FOR the second time this year, Cootamundra has been rocked by a season-ending injury to an influential player.
In a bitter blow, Cootamundra captain Aaron Byrne has been ruled out for the remainder of the Group Nine premiership with a snapped Achilles tendon.
Byrne, who is one of the most respected and popular players in the region, sustained the painful injury midway through the second half of game against Gundagai at Les Boyd Oval last Saturday.
The 31-year-old playmaker was booked to undergo surgery late on Monday to repair the damage –and will not play again in 2017.
Coming three months after Cootamundra coach Warren Lloyd was sidelined for the year with a badly torn pectoral muscle, Byrne’s prognosis leaves another massive hole in the Bulldogs ranks.
Understandably, Byrne is “pretty shattered” by the bleak situation.
“Although it was a tough season, I really wanted to finish the year off with the guys who have stuck it out, getting bashed each week, but still turning up,” Byrne reported on Monday.
“Anyway, that’s footy.”
Byrne is expected to weigh up his options in the off-season before deciding whether to play again in 2018.
Significantly, the loss of their inspiration skipper is another heavy burden for the beleaguered Bulldogs as they count down the final seven rounds of the premiership.
Heading into the game against Junee at Les Boyd Oval on Saturday, Cootamundra is on the rebound from substantial losses to Southcity and Gundagai respectively in the past two weeks.
The Bulls overwhelmed Cootamundra 50-6 at Harris Park on June 17 before the Tigers scored 14 tries in a 76-12 demolition last Saturday.
CRL Riverina operations manager Dean Sutherland, meantime, will review video footage before deciding if a Southcity star will be charged over a biting allegation arising from the 26-all draw with Young on Sunday.
Sutherland said a decision regarding the accusation would not be made until Tuesday.
Group Nine Referee’s Director Tony Fletcher revealed Group Six referee Matt Mavin, who officiated at Alfred Oval on Sunday as a part of a referee’s exchange program, had lodged an “incident report” following the game.
Fletcher said Mavin had been given a favourable report for his performance on Sunday.
Likewise, Group Nine referees Scott Muir, Mick Kirkman, Ben Whitby and Sean Byatt had received “positive feedback” for their efforts in Group Six games at Campbelltown Stadium on the weekend.