Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Biloela Moving to Survive; Panthers Make Move to Rocky Comp to Cement Future of Club

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Biloela Moving to Survive; Panthers Make Move to Rocky Comp to Cement Future of Club

Article excerpt

Megan McEwan

sport@gladstone

observer.com.au

WHEN Biloela Panthers Rugby League Football Club made the decision to move out of Gladstone Rugby League and into RockhamptonCOs competition the club had one thing in mind Co the survival of rugby league in Biloela.

Biloela president Ryan Harth said it was the second time the club had attempted to leave GRL and after a little more preparation the second time around, had finally been successful.

After the clubCOs proposal was knocked back by QRL Biloela appealed to the Central Division and was successful last Friday night

C[pounds sterling]The biggest thing for us is the Rockhampton competition accommodates an under-20COs competition,C[yen] Harth said.

With GRL canning under-20s in 2010 Harth said sending under-18s to open age was not viable for the club.

C[pounds sterling]It is a big step up, physically and mentally to step out of schoolboys into adult,C[yen] he said.

Biloela A-grade coach Graeme Middlebrook agreed.

C[pounds sterling]When I got involved in 2011 we realised we needed to provide an avenue for our kids to come through,C[yen] Middlebrook said.

C[pounds sterling]Without providing an avenue for 17, 18, 19-year-olds we probably werenCOt going to have football in Biloela.C[yen]

Harth said giving young players that two years to mature made a huge difference. This year GRL introduced a plan for under-18s to train with the seniors and play on the same game day, but Harth said that did not help the club.

C[pounds sterling]We are still looking at under 18-year-olds stepping up to play against grown men the following year,C[yen] he said.

Both Harth and Middlebrook said Biloela was facing problems specific to them in the GRL competition as most other teams were benefiting from the resources boom.

C[pounds sterling]We need to develop and breed our own local players so weCOve got footy here in five years time,C[yen] Harth said.

Middlebrook said the club lost a lot of under-18s last year who were not willing to resign with the club to play open age rugby league.

C[pounds sterling]We canCOt just bury our heads in the sand and say thatCOs okay because thatCOs not okay. …

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