BUNDARRA have been left “bewildered” by a Group 4 ruling that has seen them unable to field the side that they intended to when signing up for a premier crack at the Second Division competition last year.

Former Inverell Hawk now Bundarra Bear Nick Dawson wraps up Dungowan fullback Dylan O’Brien last weekend. Both players were their sides best in the big Cowboys win. Photo: Gareth Gardner 140516GGE10

The Bears are playing in the Shield, the top tier of the division, but after three rounds are the only side that look out of place in the tight league, copping big losses from both Dungowan last weekend and Boggabri in the opening round with a bye in between. Club man and semi-retired player Tony Gleeson said that if Jake and Nicholas Deaves were allowed to play the Bears would be right up there with the other six sides in the competition, which is shaping up as being the closest comp in the Group this season.

The Deaves boys won a premiership with Inverell in Group 19 last year, which has lead to Group 4 ruling that they are first division players and ineligible to play Second Division, although Bundarra are arguing that the brothers are Bundarra residents so should be allowed to play.

Their father Gary Deaves has been the driving force behind the Bears coming out of hibernation, and also owns and runs the Bundarra Hotel, along with the help of his sons, one of which lives and works at the pub.

As of last Saturday back rower Luke had been cleared but was still waiting on confirmation, although there was no news on playmaker Jake. While fellow former Hawk Scott Fitzgerald has already pulled out of the side, Nick Dawson qualified as over 35 and was taking on the lion’s share of work in the engine room at Dungowan.

“We named a side in June last year and built the club around that side,” Gleeson said.

“Then two weeks before the pre-season Knockout we were told they couldn’t play.”

“They should have said that from day one, not after we formed a side that could compete in the Shield.”

Gleeson believes that the club has been unfairly targeted by the rules that claim Second Division clubs can only have one player from a first division first grade side and one reserve grade player.

“Wee Waa won the reserve grade premiership last year and are now playing Second Division with most of that same side.”

“If you are going to make a rule it should be for everyone and not implemented two weeks before the comp starts.”

“We need that nucleus of players to keep building the club and keep getting better.”

Gleeson believes that even if the club had a bit more notice they could have made some changes or done something about it.

“We are a small country town but have managed to get plenty of support and sponsorship.”

“We might lose all that if we keep going along like this.”

“If we had some notice we could have even had a year out and got it right next year.”

“Everyone is just bewildered.”

This weekend the Bears will try and get their season on track when they take on the also winless Wee Waa at Captain Cook Oval, while Dungowan and Kootingal will clash in an always entertaining local derby, and Werris Creek will look to string two wins on the trot with a tough hit out against Boggabri at home with all matches kicking off at 2.30pm.

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