Rugby Union: Lake Macquarie Roos hopping mad over player-points cap change

LIVID: Lake Macquarie player coach Gareth Polamo. Picture: Stewart Hazell
LIVID: Lake Macquarie player coach Gareth Polamo. Picture: Stewart Hazell

FURIOUS Lake Macquarie have accused the NHRU board of bowing to pressure from other clubs and asked them to explain an 11th hour backflip that resulted in the Roos' player-points cap being reduced from 29 points to 24.

The Roos were informed last Monday that their cap had been increased to 29 points, five above the 24 normally allocated to the bottom-three placed clubs from the previous seasons.

The increase was designed to allow the Roos to recruit players and ensure they were competitive after a disastrous 2018 in which they conceded more than 100 points in five first-grade games. Each new player is worth three points. 

However, the decision bought a backlash from rival clubs, who argued that in the interest of fairness teams given dispensation should get the same amount.

The board reconvened and on Thursday night, two days before the season kick-off, the Roos' cap was cut to 24. However, they were given leeway for the opening round, where they fielded players worth 25 points in a 43-25 win over Singleton.

"Our recruitment was done around 29 points," Lake Macquarie treasurer Mark Mitchell said. "Surely the board did their due diligence. In business if you make a decision you stick to it. The clubs that wanted to kick us out last season because we weren't strong enough are now complaining because we are too strong. No-one is complaining about Southern Beaches. They finished sixth last year but have been given 24 points, the same as the bottom three. We have written to the board asking them to reinstate the points or, at the very least, explain the decision."

Mitchell said the Roos would field a team worth 24 points against Wanderers at Walters Park on Saturday.

However, he indicated there could be issues if the club suffered injuries to players in the front-row or second row.

"Our players in the tight five are worth zero or one point in first grade, but the in second grade they worth three points," Mitchell said.

Lake Macquarie last made the play-off is 2012 where they went down to Merewether in the preliminary final.

In 2015, they withdrew from first grade midway through the season after a large injury toll combined with a loss of players resulted in a series of lop-sided scorelines.

Mitchell is confident the club will be sustainable and not need to recruit the same amount players next season.

"We have built our juniors up and have teams right through to the under-18s," he said. "In the next 12 months they should start coming into grade and then every year on wards. That has always been the plan. If we finish above bottom three this season, we will be back to 16 points which is where we want to be."