Group 11 president Derrick Hoe has hit out at Group 10 clubs while also slamming those who think his competition will be of a lesser quality this year.
The departure of a number of high profile players, some of those to Group 10 clubs, has led some to state the competition to the east is now far stronger.
But Hoe rubbished that claim.
“We develop most of our blokes so why have they (Group 10) got to pluck our best players if they’re so good?” Hoe stated.
“They’ve got some Group 11 guys and gone and got ex-NRL guys as well to stiffen up their competition. Most of the blokes who have gone (from Group 11) were developed here so that shows they’re in demand.
“We’ve had some go to Illawarra and Wollongong and four of five have gone to Group 10 and a lot of under 18s have gone to NRL clubs so that shows our systems are working.
“They reap and pillage our competition and I think that says more about Group 10.”
Forbes powerhouse Zac Merritt, along with Parkes star Sam Dwyer and teammate Brandon Tago, as well as former Macquarie gun Josh Merritt have all moved to Bathurst St Pat’s while CYMS have lost multiple premiership winners Kieran Cubby-Shipp and Jarryn Powyer, to Newcastle and Wollongong respectively.
Throw in the fact Parkes legend Dennis Moran has retired, Nyngan captain-coach and former NRL player Stewart Mills has moved back to Sydney and rising Macquarie star Luke Gale has gone to the St George Illawarra Dragons, there’s no doubt Group 11 has lost a huge amount of talent.
“I’m expecting a really big year,” Hoe said defiantly.
“It sounds like Wellington might be signing a couple of former State of Origin players and that will give them and Group 11 publicity.
“Nyngan we don’t know a lot about yet but they’re always quality and Narromine will be there or thereabouts.
“Parkes, Forbes and CYMS have lost a few but I think it will be as good as always and if anything, go forward.”
While there has been an exodus of players, the competition has attracted some new faces.
Claude Gordon has returned and will coach Dubbo Westside along former CYMS player Matt Naden while plenty is expected of former Redcliffe Dolphin Wes Middleton, who has been named as the mentor at the Narromine Jets.
Nyngan is yet to announce Mills’ replacement but a high-profile name is expected while Wellington is still yet to confirm any marquee signing despite the swirling rumours.
We develop most of our blokes so why have they (Group 10) got to pluck our best players if they’re so good?Group 11's Derrick Hoe
As well as that, Hoe said Group 11’s ability to produce young talents will see new stars emerge.
“The academies and individual clubs’ knowledge and input in phenomenal,” he said.
“There’s people like Tim Ryan and Dennis Moran and their knowledge of football is huge. That’s passed on to the young fellas under them and takes them to bigger and better things.”