RLI risks mass player exodus
GOODNA coach Corey Kirk expects Rugby League Ipswich to suffer in future as a result of there being no play this season.
Kirk said the A-Grade competition risked a drop in participation numbers and overall standard as players moved to Brisbane Rugby League clubs in hope of getting some time on field this year.
He said if players linked with BRL teams and enjoyed themselves, there was every chance they would not return to Ipswich.
"Ipswich is going to hurt badly," he said. "I think we are going to lose plenty of players. It is going to hurt a lot of the clubs next year and beyond."
Kirk said the RLI A-Grade competition had already been facing a lack of players and steady increases to the standard seen of late could be lost.
He said he was unsure where RLI was going and more attention needed to be paid to strategic planning to ensure sustainability into the future.
"The standard has been getting stronger and stronger every year, with Wes Conlon and we added Phil Dennis this year" he said.
"But the standard is going to cop a fair whack because the players aren't going to come back. We have six teams at the moment and West End is dying a slow death, so that would take us back to five. Let's hope we don't see a mass exodus to the BRL."
Kirk said his playing group was extremely disappointed and he felt every effort should have been made to give them an opportunity to compete.
"We're gutted that it's been made official that it's not happening," he said.
"I thought they should have at all costs tried to satisfy the players we've got. We're pretty devastated. We had assumed as much (that it was not going to happen) but it is still an empty feeling."
Upon hearing of the cancellation of the Ipswich comp, Kirk immediately approached his club president and RLI to see if he could enter his team into the BRL.
He said he had organised sponsors and there would have been no cost to the Goodna club or RLI but was told joining the BRL was not an option.
"At the end of the day my boys just wanted to play footy," he said.
"We knew there was no money or crowds but they still wanted to play. The BRL may go ahead but the RLI and QRL shut it (request to play in BRL) down quickly and said it was not happening. I tried everything I could for my players. All I can do now is grant them releases when they need to leave."
RLI has flagged the possibility of holding carnivals or gala days to give players some footy should gathering restrictions ease further.
Kirk said while this would keep footy in the forefront of minds and he could see some benefit, his seniors were only interested in the premiership and juniors needed consistent footy to build skills.
"I coach A-Grade," he said.
"We want to win the premiership. Obviously, there is nothing for us in that space, so I think we're just happy to let the year go by and work out where we go moving forwards.
"If they are going to run them (carnivals) and make them free they might get some interest. But If you're going to have gala days why not just have the competition. Keep the precautions in place and hygiene at the top of the agenda. We had 30,000 plus people at a rally last week. It just doesn't add up. I tend to think it has just been put in the too hard basket."
Kirk has worked hard to assemble a formidable squad.
While he fears many will move to the BRL, he hopes his club can retain the majority.
Unsure whether he will stay on as A-Grade coach, Kirk said his decision will depend on whether players he has established relationships with remain at the club.
He will use this year to take a break and refresh before continuing his work with Goodna's young players.
"I'm more disappointed for the juniors," he said.
"Rugby league is such a vital part of their development and health and wellbeing. I tend to think that cancelling was the easier option and a lot of kids are going to pay the price."