NELSON Bay coach Steve Dunstan cannot question the commitment of his players but the league convert is adamant the Gropers need an injection of new blood if they are to be competitive next season.
After opening the season with a 27-23 win over Southern Beaches, the Gropers have lost 15 straight games.
The low point in the horror run was Saturday's 99-0 hammering at the hands of University.
"The last month we have been going really good, but we capitulated on Saturday," Dunstan said.
"We had a heap of injuries, a couple of blokes at weddings and some down at the snow.
"You do not like to use those things as an excuse, but we had three blokes [on the bench] back up from third grade.
"The commitment of the boys over the last four weeks has been exceptional.
'The club is a great club, but they have to make some commitment to go forward in the way of recruitment.
"You can't keep doing this year in year out. By playing players two games a day, all you do is burn them out."
Dunstan, a former assistant coach at the Newcastle Knights, has no regret about switching codes.
"I don't run away from these sort of battles I love them," he said.
Dunstan's cause has not been helped by the mid-season departure of Welsh five-eighth Blaidd Jenkins and a season-ending injury to former Canadian international Casey Dunning.
"We had three other Pommy guys who didn't work out either," Dunstan said.
The economic slump has hit the Port Stephens area hard, making it difficult to find jobs for players. The Nelson Bay Blues rugby league club have encountered similar problems.
"The average age of the side is 19," Dunstan said. "I have to take my hat off to a few of the young kids who have really stood up. We are still getting 30-odd to training, but they are just learning."