If Group 9 gets off and running in 2020, the Tumut Blues will open their competition title defence against old foes, Gundagai Tigers.
The mouth-watering match currently slated to played be at Twickenham on July 19, will well and truly welcome back the competition in all its ferocious glory.
Although only in a draft stage, an early look at the Group 9 draw looks favourable for Tumut, who are gifted five home games, hosting the Tigers in round one, and fellow heavyweights, Southcity, in round eight.
Of their four away games, trips to Albury in round two, and Young in round seven look the biggest challenges in a shortened season.
Blues president, Bryan Black, was understandably happy with the draft draw, especially the fact they will host the Tigers.
“I’m quite happy with the draw; the Gundagai game could’ve been a bit later to give the boys a bit of match fitness, but being first up, it’s a great day for the club and should draw a big crowd,” Black said.
Black did acknowledge that hosting the Tigers early on could pose issues if crowd restrictions were still in place by July 19.
“It will be hard to negotiate and hard to police. They (supporters) are either going to be chomping at the bit to go down there and watch, or we will have no one,” Black said.
Blues captain/coach Dean Bristow wasn’t phased by the draw, or the timing of their match against Gundagai, insisting that they would have to eventually play them in any draft draw.
“It doesn’t really worry me; I have no preference with the draw and whatever we have to do,” Bristow said.
“Whether it is round one, or round nine, we will have to play them at one stage.”
Bristow wasn’t confident the draw meant anything though, with New South Wales Rugby League yet to announce the return to training or playing for any senior competition.
“The longer we wait for an answer, the less chance we are of playing,” Bristow said.
“The boys have started to lose interest and they have openly admitted they are not doing as much at home.”
Black supported Bristow in his views, and was frustrated that the governing body had no issued guidelines as yet.
“It’s frustrating but because nothing is coming from the top; we sort of can’t do much until we hear from them,” Black said.
“It’s not happening right now, and the closer it gets to the date without having guideless, the less likely we will play at all.”
Group 9 Chairman, Peter McDermott, understood the frustration associated with the NSWRL not making any formal announcements.
“It’s good enough, we are waiting for news each day and every couple of days we are being told to be patient, it’s tough for everyone,” McDermott said.
McDermott did ask clubs to keep positive and patient, and hoped that the entire competition would accept the draft draw.
“Once again I reiterated no draw will please everyone and it should be more about getting footy back playing than about the draw in these unprecedented times,” McDermott said.
“It is the first nine rounds of our original draw, so there has been no manipulation or trying to please anyone, and we think it is the fairest option for all clubs.”
Additionally, Group 9 are hoping that these long-awaited guidelines for a return to training and playing would be issued by NSWRL prior to the Group 9 meeting needed to approve the draw and proposed finals formats.
“Also with the current restrictions reducing shortly, we are looking at having a Group 9 meeting at the (Wagga) RSL when we can organise to vote on Draw/Finals Option 1 or 2 in going forward and have just a general discussion on where each club is up to and their thoughts,” McDermott said.
“Hopefully we will have some further guidelines from NSWRL in progressing forward even more by then.”
Draft Group 9 draw
Round 1: July 19
Cootamundra v Young, Tumut v Gundagai, Temora v Junee, South-
city v Albury.
July 18: Brothers v Kangaroos.
Round 2: July 26
Gundagai v Brothers, Junee v Kangaroos, Albury v Tumut, Young v Temora.
July 25: Southcity v Cootamundra.
Round 3: August 2
Brothers v Junee, Gundagai v Albury, Kangaroos v Young, Tumut v Cootamunda.
August 1: Temora v Southcity.
Round 4: August 9
Albury v Brothers, Young v Junee, Cootamundra v Gundagai, Southcity v Kangaroos.
August 8: Tumut v Temora.
Round 5: August 16
Kangaroos v Tumut, Albury v Cootamundra, Junee v Southcity, Gundagai v Temora.
August 15: Brothers v Young.
Round 6: August 23
Cootamundra v Brothers, South-
city v Young, Temora v Albury, Tumut v Junee.
August 22: Kangaroos v Gundagai.
Round 7: August 30
Brothers v Southcity, Cootamundra v Temora, Young v Tumut, Albury v Kangaroos.
August 30: Junee v Gundagai.
Round 8: September 6
Temora v Brothers, Tumut v Southcity, Kangaroos v Cootamundra, Gundagai v Young.
September 6: Junee v Albury.
Round 9: September 13
Brothers v Tumut, Temora v Kangaroos, Southcity v Gundagai, Cootamundra v Junee.
September 13: Young v Albury.
3 x Week finals series, Top 4
Week 1: 20/9: Team v v Team 2, Team 3 v Team 4.
Week 2: 27/9: Loser of Team 1 v Team 2, Winner of Team 3 v Team 4.
Week 3: Grand Final 4/10/20: Winner of team 1 v Team 2, Winner of week 2 final.
2 x Week Finals Series, Top 4
Week 1: 20/9: Game 1: Team 1 v Team 4
Game 2: Team 2 v Team 3
Week 2 Grand Final: 27/9: Winner Game 1 v Winner Game 2.