Group 10 Rugby League intends to maintain a five-teams finals format for the 2020 season despite the senior competitions being reduced to eight sides thanks to Oberon's withdrawal and subsequent entry into the New Era Cup.
With an even number of sides the Tigers' withdrawal has eliminated the need for week-to-week byes however it remains unconfirmed if there will be full, scheduled weeks off, but the proud club's fall from grace also highlighted the possibility of a return to a top four finals series.
Group 10 president Linore Zamparini all but squashed the query this week though, signalling the executive's desire to maintain the status quo in a bid to ensure the excitement factor remained towards the back end of the season and through the finals.
"We've had quick discussions on it and we thought we'd leave it at five purely because it makes the finals series a lot better," Zamparini explained.
Zamparini went on to explain ensuring the minor premiers get their just rewards following what will inevitably be a brutal season physically played a role, that week off in the first week of the finals will become all the more valuable in 2020.
"The minor premiers get a week off and then you've got two plays three and four plays five. If you go the other way then the minor premiers don't get the week off," he said.
We've had quick discussions on it and we thought we'd leave it at five purely because it makes the finals series a lot better.Group 10 president Linore Zamparini
Zamparini said the top flights' finals structure was discussed early in December after the Tigers confirmed their switch to the New Era Cup, buckling pressure from their dwindling player base proved the catalyst for their move to the second division.
That discussion was supposed to be tabled in an official capacity at a Group 10 executive meeting on December 18 but a committee wasn't formed. Zamparini went on to say he's certain the battle for the top five will once again be fierce too.
"The last two years of the competition the top five hasn't been decided until the last round," he said.
"Your team five could all possibly be around the same numbers. They'll all be competitive.
"Blayney's on the rebuild, Mudgee's got unfinished business, Panthers are looking for another one, of course and Workies have certainly pulled up well in the off season."
Oberon's move was naturally a disappointing move for the Group 10 board to witness but Zamparini said the change in competitions was understandable, praising the battling club for their honesty in a difficult situation.
"It's disappointing not to reach the full compliment of teams but Oberon were just being honest and they thought that if they came out with the team they had that they knew they'd be flogged each week," he said.
"They figured they wouldn't last the season like that.
"We've still got a really good competition and if most of the clubs can get the four teams together that would be great, and some are looking to get an under-18 league tag team in."
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