Group Nine’s new pre-season event is having a big impact on the West Wyalong Knockout.
Only eight nominations have been received for next month’s lucrative pre-season event at this stage.
It is in stark contrast to recent years, where all of the 16 places have been filled by late December or early January.
Organiser Peter Williams is hoping to attract some more clubs for the event on February 22 and 23.
“It’s unfortunate that there is not as much as usual,” Williams said.
He believes Group Nine’s new pre-season nines has had a big impact on nominations.
“Group Nine putting that nines knockout on is what has hurt us,” Williams said.
“Some of them have pulled out because of that.
“It’s really hindered us a bit.”
Group Nine introduced a compulsory nines tournament this pre-season.
It will be played at Cootamundra on March 16 with the regular season to start on April 6.
Group Nine clubs have gone in large numbers West Wyalong in recent years.
Six clubs have been nominated in the past two editions while there were seven in 2016 and eight in 2015.
Former winners Albury and Gundagai haven’t been for two years running, but both clubs cited the early date for the change.
At this stage Brothers, Southcity and Temora will represent Group Nine at West Wyalong.
It is the least amount of Group Nine teams since only four took part in 2014.
With $15,000 up for grabs there are still plenty of strong entries however Group 10 premiers Bathurst Panthers are another club who won’t be back this year.
Panthers will play a competition game as the curtain-raiser to the NRL game between Penrith and Melbourne in March and captain-coach Doug Hewitt decided against adding another early fixture to their workload.
In another change year the women’s leaguetag knockout won’t be played this year.
However Young has altered their leaguetag knockout to a one-day affair on March 2 and the women also feature in Group Nine’s nines.