FAMILY REUNION: West End Bulldog Paris Oti welcomes his brother Israel to the kennel this year.
Picture: Cordell Richardson
FAMILY REUNION: West End Bulldog Paris Oti welcomes his brother Israel to the kennel this year. Picture: Cordell Richardson

Dogs in darkness

THE West End Bulldogs have slashed expenses to give themselves the best chance of surviving the coronavirus shutdown.

The Basin Pocket-based club has emptied its cold room, switched off power and removed on-site skip bins to cut costs amid the unprecedented circumstances which have forced the suspension of all rugby league.

Resolute powerbrokers have also begun exploring options for local, state and federal government assistance or discounts with respect to expenses such as rates and electricity.

President John Cochrane said like all clubs West End faced considerable financial pressure but determined members were fighting to ensure the Bulldogs endured the crisis and lived to bark another day.

"We're doing our best," he said.

"We've shut everything up to reduce all of the overhead costs.

"We have best intentions that we will survive."

The 106-year-old club had already been battling financially prior to the disruption.

Doors were kept open this year after a community appeal launched in August via social media raised much-needed funds. Should the season not kick off, however, the situation will become increasingly desperate as cash flow dries up.

As it stands the QRL has suspended community competitions until June 1 but nobody is holding their breath for a resumption.

Cochrane said while all involved were hopeful of seeing some play, they understood the seriousness of the public health crisis gripping the globe and safety had to be the highest priority.

"There are bigger things at play than local footy," he said.

The decision to suspend community rugby league state wide was made in consultation with the QRL's chief medical officer, who advised the updated measures were in line with government initiatives to limit transmission of coronavirus.

Information regarding the latest developments is reportedly flowing freely from the QRL to RLI to the region's clubs.

Cochrane said West End officials had been well informed through regular discussions with RLI and QRL managing director Robert Moore said the game's state authority would continue to monitor the government's advice closely in a concerted effort to communicate with stakeholders as often as possible.

In the meantime, West End has loaned gym equipment to players who will continue their preparations privately.

The enforced hibernation comes at an inopportune moment for the Bulldogs as they strive to snap a longstanding premiership drought and return the club to its former glory.

Having assembled a formidable squad, on -field prospects appeared far brighter than previous years during the pre-season.

Kelepi Faukafa is pursuing an Intrust Super Cup career with Wynnum.

The backrower is the only notable loss from last year's side but coach Jae Woodward believes he has recruited sufficiently and has maturing talents ready to fill his shoes.

Joining his brothers at West End, hooker Israel Oti is expected to offer organisation.

Tristan Davies returns after a year off, while regulars Aiden Boyce, Charlie Kaipati and Tepa and Chris Faivalili are apparently fitter than ever following committed off-season efforts.

After impressive trial performances, including a gritty 18-12 win over the Normanby Hounds and a 64-4 thumping of the Beaudesert Kingfishers, players eagerly await round one with renewed belief in what they are capable of achieving when pitted against RLI A-Grade adversaries.

"A lot of the guys are 23 or 24 and they have been playing A-Grade for four years," Woodward said.

"They have earnt the right to be A-Graders.

"They know that now and they are really excited.

"Hopefully, we can get out on the field in one form or another. It would be good for the club and the community to see some football."