Sharks forfeit hits sour note with James McCabe

PORT Stephens captain-coach James McCabe has demanded more commitment from his troops following the club’s forfeit in reserve grade last Saturday.

On Friday night the Sharks were forced to withdraw from the reserve-grade game against South Newcastle at Townson Oval after six players decided to go to the Groovin’ the Moo music festival in Maitland instead.

The club already had 16 players unavailable due to injury and work commitments.

First grade were subsequently belted 74-6.

‘‘We had a meeting during the week and told those guys that they needed to be there with the injuries we had,’’ McCabe said.

‘‘They decided they’d rather go to the concert.

‘‘It wasn’t that that they couldn’t go, it would have been done by 3pm and they would have been there by 3.30 or 4. We thought we got through to them on the Wednesday and on the Friday they tell us, ‘No, we’re going.’’’

McCabe said he was confident those players would show more commitment in future.

‘‘We had a run on Monday night and it was good and all the guys were there,’’ he said.

‘‘We told them what the deal is now and I think they seemed to take it all right.’’

The Sharks were given special dispensation in the pre-season, allowing them to compete without a third-grade side.

Souths, who voted against the move, were forced to throw open the gates on Saturday and Lions president Terry Davies estimated the club lost between $2500 and $3000 based on last year’s gate and canteen takings from the corresponding match.

The Newcastle Rugby League board has invited the Sharks executive to a meeting on Monday to discuss the club’s position.

The Sharks were formed out of the ashes of the Nelson Bay-based Northern Blues.

The vision of the new club was to incorporate the entire Port Stephens region by splitting games between Tomaree and Lakeside Sports Complex and have second-division clubs Stockton, Mallabula, Fingal Bay and Raymond Terrace support the Sharks with players.

So far a limited number of second-division players have played for the Sharks.

Newcastle Rugby League chairman Trevor Crow said the board remained supportive of the Sharks.

‘‘We need to discuss as a board their future,’’ Crow said.

‘‘It’s still the second-division content north of Hexham and the Stockton bridge that is the concern.

‘‘They just won’t fall in line with what we want to do.

‘‘We need to revisit that and get some amicable decisions that works for second-tier footy in the area, and most importantly, look after the district football which is where the pathway for the elite juniors lie.’’

Meanwhile, McCabe is hopeful the Jakes Coles memorial day on Saturday at Tomaree against Lakes United will inspire the Sharks to their first victory.

Coles was a Blues third grader and manager who died suddenly aged 22 last May.

On the first memorial day last year the Blues beat Cessnock 13-12 for their only win and undoubtedly the upset of the season.

‘‘I spoke to the guys about it,’’ McCabe said.

‘‘It was an example of what we can achieve if everyone has a go.’’

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