With one week before the start of the season, Gippsland Rugby League Coach Jeff Hiriaki has expressed grave concern to the future of Wildcats and their inclusion to the Melbourne Rugby League competition.
Hiriaki and Manager, Steve Kilpatrick having assessed attendance to training since November last year has appealed to the League to consider withdrawing Wildcats from the Melbourne Rugby League competition due to lack of numbers.
"Having trained since November last year, players attendance had been sliding up and down weekly with the highest attendance recorded during the week of the lead up to the annual Country Championships in Corowa early last month" Hiriaki explained. "Having lost nine prominent players from last year has reduced our numbers dramatically".
It was hoped that the Melbourne Storm trial match held in March would help to promote rugby league in the local area and to increase the number of senior rugby players in LatrobeCity however, this has not been the case.
The League views the lack of numbers partly due to the late release of the draw for this season. The first encounter was expected to kick off last weekend but at the request of all clubs, a revised draw was released delaying the competition another two weeks.
"It’s been almost a month since the Country Championships offering Wildcats their first match of the season that has impacted the reduction of numbers to training. With players training since November, it’s natural that a dropout is encountered as it’s a long time between the first game of the year to the start of the season" a league spokesman stated. Changing venues from Traralgon to Morwell may have contributed but league officials deny this holds any relevance.
Whilst the withdrawal may be evident on a senior level, Gippsland Rugby League will continue as governing body sustaining juniors. A Crisis meeting is to be held on Wednesday, 23rd April, Maryvale Recreation Reserve (East) Morwell at .