Northern Hawks coach Brad Tighe is disappointed but far from disillusioned at a NSWRL decision blocking their bid for promotion to the Newcastle RL first grade competition next season.
The Hawks and Central Coast club Erina had applied for inclusion in a 12-team top-grade competition in 2022 but both bids were knocked back. A last-ditch attempt by the Hawks last week to have the NSWRL board's decision reversed was denied.
"It's disappointing and not ideal but it is what it is and we have to accept the decision," Tighe said.
"We're certainly not bitter about it and I can understand why some of the other clubs were reluctant to jump to 12 teams given the disruptions to competitions due to COVID over the past couple of seasons.
"I suppose we just have to keep moving forward and try to push on to 2023. The positive is it gives us an extra 12 months to prepare and strengthen our case."
Based out of Raymond Terrace and Nelson Bay, the Hawks fielded reserve grade and under 19's teams for the first time this year.
Their application for promotion in 2022 had already won the approval of the Newcastle RL board.
Tighe even had a number of leading players including Tyler Randall, Tyronne Roberts-Davis, Henry Penn and Frank-Paul Nu'uausala lined up to bolster the Hawks young playing ranks.
But while it was rubber-stamped at local level, a number of existing clubs expressed their concerns to the NSWRL, who ultimately put expansion plans on hold.
NSWRL operations boss Bert Lowrie said a detailed review of all competition structures in the Newcastle and Hunter region will now be undertaken early next year before further decisions are made.
"The door is certainly not closed on the Hawks, who I'm sure will use the next 12 months to strengthen their case even further," Lowrie said.
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