Blackcats back out

BLACKHEATH has abandoned plans to contest the 2013 Group 10 premier league competition, with president Linore Zamparini calling the club’s move down a grade purely “numbers” based.

The Blackcats have taken to the field in Group 10’s first division competition for the last two seasons, and last year made the move to play in the under 18s premiership too.

Both were heralded as a step towards three grades and a Blue Mountains based side in Group 10 top grade.

However, plans for it to come to fruition in 2013 appear off the mark.

Zamparini said the Blackcats would again contest the Group 10 first division and under 18s competition, but won’t be appearing, for the first time, in premier league in 2013, leaving the premiership win nine teams ahead of season kick-off in April.

“It’s purely numbers,” the Group 10 chief said, with a bye set to replace Blackheath in the draw.

“They possibly could have had the numbers but they didn’t want to play premier league, get hammered every week then pull out halfway through the season.”

Once a powerhouse in Group 10 second division Centennial Coal Cup, Blackheath has indicated in the past the club plans on making it up through the grades to play in the regions’ premier rugby league competition.

But, after a number of attempts, the Blackcats are yet to nail both the talent and the required player pool to last the 18-week premier league regular season.

However, Zamparini was still hopeful of 2014 being the year Group 10 breaks into a 10 team premiership.

“They believe with the build-up now in first division in 2013 they’ll be right come next year,” he said.

Unlike seasons past when Blackheath has fielded just first division and under 18s sides, clubs taking on the Blackcats won’t have to back up and play another outfit, Oberon in past years, on the same weekend.

That problem will be alleviated in 2013 with the inclusion of Blayney.

“Had [Blackheath pulling out of premier league] created that same Saturday-Sunday scenario the group would have probably thought twice about letting them drop back,” Zamparini said.

“It’s good with Blayney there.”

Nine teams - Orange Hawks, Orange CYMS, Bathurst Panthers, Bathurst St Pat’s, Cowra Magpies, Mudgee Dragons, Oberon Tigers, Blayney Bears and defending premiers Lithgow Workies - will race for the 2013 premier league title.

With Blackheath involved, 10 teams will clash in both first division and under 18s.

When premier league teams enjoy the bye, the club’s reserve grade squads will tackle Blackheath.

“It’s all looking good at this stage,” Zamparini said.

“Blayney have indicated they’re training well and if they can do what Oberon did last season then it’ll be great for the group.”

A finalised draw will be released after Group 10 meets with the Country Rugby League on February 9.

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