East Wagga-Kooringal president Steve Absolum says there are no 'sour grapes' behind the club's appeal against Marrar's team selection for the under 17.5 Farrer League grand final.
Absolum points out the Hawks lodged their appeal before they lost to the Bombers in the decider.
"It wasn't sour grapes about the grand final. We brought it up before the grand final. It was well underway earlier in the finals, asking questions about what the rules were," Absolum said.
"What do we hope to achieve? It's not about taking a premiership. It's just about getting a clear indication of the rules.
"Marrar were the better team on the day. Well done, they played well.
"But we're taking AFL Riverina to task on their by-laws, to sharpen them up. Because there are different rules and by-laws saying different things."
AFL Riverina rejected EWK's initial complaint on the eve of the grand final, saying Marrar players Drew Beavan (four games), Toby Lawler (six games), Adam Whyte (five games) and Nathanael Mooney (four games) met the criteria for inclusion in the under 17.5 decider against EWK, having been on team sheets for at least four games during the season.
The Hawks immediately lodged a request to appeal but AFL NSW-ACT said it wasn't possible to complete an appeals process a day out from the game.
The Bombers won the game, with Beavan best-on-ground, fellow midfielder Lawler their next best and Whyte a key defender. Mooney was a late withdrawal.
The individual players' integrity has not been questioned. However, EWK believe the eligibility criteria wasn't met by Marrar and have since mounted a detailed and forensic application for appeal.
AFL Riverina said it relies on by-law 10.7.6 which says a player who is playing first grade 'must play the minimum 25% (four games) of the available home and away games to qualify for the Under 17.5's finals. After qualifying, he can play unlimited first grade games with the same season.'
But another rule (10.7.2) says a player who has played eight first grade games will be ineligible for under 17.5s. Beavan and Lawler played more than eight senior games and the Hawks believe they were ineligible.
There's also 10.7.5 which says 'for the purpose of the above rules, players who have been recorded on the team sheets will be regarded as having played that match.' The Hawks believe that particular mention of 'above rules' means the interpretation about being 'recorded on the team sheets' doesn't apply to 10.7.6. They argue the rules are specifically designed to require players to qualify by actively playing in games during the season.
Marrar told AFL Riverina their players did participate in the games they were named in, but the Hawks' appeal indicates they have doubts about those claims.
Beavan and Whyte also played GWS Giants NEAFL/Academy games which, under rule 10.7.9.1, also count towards a player's eligibility for club finals, although the rule doesn't stipulate any detail about grades.
Absolum says the Hawks' motive is to prevent exploitation of the rules, and believes their case, mounted by lawyer and club registrar Jeremy Naumann, is a strong one.
"We've paid our money for an appeal. It's alright for people to say their players qualify under the rules, but we don't think they do," he said.
"And the other question is, it might be in the by-laws that you can do something, but is it in the spirit of the game... like having players names on team sheets but not playing in the game?
"We didn't think it was fair either that a heap of players drop back from first grade to play in the (Under 17.5) grand final.
"But it's not about them winning. We wanted to get it sorted before the grand final."
The Bombers successfully exploited a loophole in the by-laws last year, qualifying two players for first grade finals by twice playing reserves and seniors on one day to be eligible for finals in two weekends. That loophole was shut at the end of last year when the by-law was rewritten.