Dave Trodden's not afraid of change.
Instead, the NSWRL chief executive says now's the time he, and the rest of the rugby league community, embraces it.
Group 10 is on the verge of slumping to a 75-year first if its premier league competition drops to five teams, after, in the space of the last two years, Oberon, Cowra and just this week Blayney decided to pull the pin on the top grade.
And there's a chance the battling Lithgow Workies club could join them, leaving two Orange clubs, two Bathurst outfits and the powerful Mudgee Dragons in the northern reaches of Group 10.
Even if Lithgow rallies and can field a premier league side in 2021, six clubs will be the lowest the top grade has fielded since 2004. The only time the competition has had fewer first grade sides was in 1947.
A staunch historian of the game, Trodden says losing clubs, at any level, is a blow for rugby league.
But he says confidently, now more than ever, change is necessary.
And the NSWRL has, he says, the "significant support from people in regional NSW to do things a different way" from 2022 moving forward.
What that looks like for Western and those clubs currently battling as Group 10 emerges post COVID-19 is anyone's guess.
But Trodden was adamant on a number of fronts.
We can't ignore changing circumstances ... but we'll make sure if things do change that we change with them.NSWRL chief executive Dave Trodden
A straight Group 10 and Group 11 merge isn't likely, with all of Western Division's 39 clubs under the microscope.
A points cap, like the one currently in use in Group 10 but shafted by Group 11, will be used across NSWRL in a bid to ensure rich clubs aren't buying up all the talent state-wide.
He said critiscm of NSWRL being out of touch with bush footy competitions was off the mark, with the decision-makers "regional people who know what they're talking about".
And he added a "competitive balance" was key to ensuring clubs like the ones we've lost in Group 10 recently are able to bounce back and find a level of rugby league good for the town, the club and those who support the game.
Anyway you look at it, as a seismic shift in bush footy nears. And Trodden says it's time to embrace it.
"We can't ignore changing circumstances ... but we'll make sure if things do change that we change with them," Trodden said.
"One of the demographic changes that's happened in regional NSW is an increasing concentration of people living in larger areas. Places like Dubbo and Bathurst have become bigger, to the detriment of some of the small areas in western NSW.
"The inevitable consequence of that is the small areas will find it more difficult to compete in the competitions they've traditionally competed in.
"The answer is not to abandon those people, but to construct competitions in different ways to accommodate large towns, giving them the level of football they want to play at, but also accommodate the smaller towns ... so the competitions they play in are at the appropriate standard that suits them."
With that formula in mind, Trodden said a straight Group 10 and Group 11 merger between the 15 clubs currently governed by both groups isn't on the table.
For one, the problems the small towns in either competition are now facing wouldn't go away, and Trodden acknowledged that.
He said a "number" or merged competitions would form, involving Woodbridge, Mid-west and Castlereagh cup premiership races, too. And who knows which other clubs from outside the division.
"People are looking at that (Western merge) through the prism of one single competition. It may be that the thinking needs to extend to a number of competitions not constrained by old boundaries, which provides everyone with the level of football they want to play and can compete at," he added.
It's an interesting look at the largest geographical division on NSWRL's books. From one end to the other, say Lithgow to Cobar, it's roughly a six-hour journey, one way.
And while Trodden isn't suggesting the Van Veen boys will be hitting the road to travel out to Tom Good country any time soon, the future costs for all clubs when it comes to travelling will be mitigated by NSWRL.
"There's a whole range of ways we can go about addressing those issues," he said.
"But the one thing we can't do is just to sit back and hope things will be different. Our role as a governing body is to do something to address the issue.
"It's the same old story; if you keep doing things the same way you'll keep getting the same result.
"We think we have the answers."
He admitted plans to implement change have been derailed by COVID-19, and what was originally hoped would be in play for 2021 will be pushed back to 2022 as clubs and competitions look to consolidate this winter.
It comes back to a competitive balance, and if you let spending get out of control it'll ultimately destroy a competition.Dave Trodden on over-spending on players
The pandemic has heavily impacted a lot of clubs' bottom lines, a fact felt even harder by small-town clubs who have leaned on the community for sponsorship and support for years, and in some cases decades, to help pay players.
Smaller towns have historically paid overs to land key players in a bid to win competitions. It's not unusual for clubs to spend over $100,000 on a premier league rugby league team. That figure can balloon depending on the backer and the players being sought.
Trodden admitted excessive spending was a problem across regional NSW and could "ultimately destroy a competition".
"We can't let that happen," he said. "We will address, at all different levels, a point systems in competitions. Salary caps are difficult to police but point systems aren't.
"It comes back to a competitive balance, and if you let spending get out of control it'll ultimately destroy a competition.
"If you create a competitive balance, then you don't have to save anyone from anyone, because you have good competitions that everyone thrives in."
He said the history behind divisions and groups would remain, but the borders that define them won't necessarily be a constraint any longer.
To many rusted on Country Rugby League figures it's a lot to take in, and in some cases it's resulted in many branding NSWRL out of touch with its bush footy brethren.
Trodden says that's simply not the case.
"I have limited patience for negative people, and I prefer a positive outlook on it," he said.
"Our head of football Bert Lowrie is from Scone, and has spent all his time in Country Rugby League, and our head of community competitions is Peter Clarke who lives in Bathurst. The footy decisions in NSWRL are being made by regional people, who know what they're talking about."
And he said those same people, including himself, would be able to offer any assistance either Cowra or Blayney needs to build back up to whatever level they want to play at.
"We'll give them whatever support they need," he added.
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