Homecoming a bonus for Group

Back to strength: Former Glen Innes hooker Jamie Watts has been playing for Ashford but will now have the chance to return home after the Magpies were one of four clubs that nominated to return to Group 19 next season.
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NEW Group 19 president Richard Stallworthy has said that the Narwan Eels are likely to make a return to rugby league in Group 19 after so far meeting all but one of the criteria set out for them.

The Eels were left on the sideline of Group 19 a decade ago, and after a bid to return last year was voted down the Armidale based side have only one more item to clear before they can comeback into the game.

“Financially they are sound but they couldn’t find a home ground,” Stallworthy said.

“They are in talks with the (Armidale) Rams to alternate weeks and sharetheir ground and I believe the Rams were open to discussing it.”

“We will get their final proposal by November 30 when we will see how many clubs are in.”

As it stands the Group could be in for a big season after ten clubs nominated following the orders of the CRL for a few clubs to return to their home base, and the new president hasn’t ruled out running a second division if the need arrives.

Glen Innes, Warialda and Tingha have also nominated that they will be ready to return for 2017.

“There is plenty of potential for a big season and we are keeping a second division open as an option,” Stallworthy said.

“Tenterfield have indicated that they are interested and Ibelieve Texas could come down too.”

The new president has also seen the U18s competition allow in 18-and-a-half year olds to boost the competition, with the move likely to see at least nine clubs field juniors, while the League Tag competition continues to be the fastest growing of any division.

“We want a really vibrant competition for the juniors – they are the future of the game.”

Stallworthy has also left the door open for discussions with Group 4.

“Group 4 might struggle next year, especially if North Tamworth go to Group 21.”

“We couldwork with Group 4 and maybe work out an east west conference competition that comes back together at the end of the year.”

“We have got a good committee that are passionate about the game and footy is on the agenda.”

The committee will further decide the make-up of season 2017 after nominations close on November 30.

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