THE Temora Dragons fear they could be the first of a handful of Group Nine dominos to fall this year after becoming the first club to officially withdraw from this year's competition due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Temora notified the Group Nine board via email on Friday morning citing financial and health factors as the main reasons, as well as disinterest in playing from some players.
It means Group Nine will be reduced to a maximum of eight teams this season with Cootamundra also expected to fall on their sword sometime this week in a bid to preserve their long term future.
Dragons secretary Mark Hughes felt it was best to give up on this season and return stronger in 2021.
"I think there's a bit of everyone sitting on the fence waiting to see what everyone else is going to do a little bit," he said.
"Once they started asking people to have a COVID-19 officer (to monitor procedures)... I don't think anyone wants that job. It was the last straw for us.
"I don't want to pre-empt anything but I just think there'll be a few clubs follow suit now we've made a decision to do it.
"It's an extremely exceptional, once in a million situation for footy.
"It's going to be a non-event to win a competition this year and I'm not saying we'd be in the mix, but it would be a tainted premiership."
Hughes added they didn't want to be non-competitive and risk younger players in particular becoming disillusioned at playing beyond this year.
"It's not going to do your clubs any favours (to be non competitive this season)," he said.
"My two boys play and they're both builders. They're just concentrating on their work and family and that's just the way it is.
"Even generally talking to our kids, no one's that enthused because it's an unusual year and it's changed the outlook on everything.
"We can focus now on retaining players, building towards next year.
"If we had those kids running around here from our under-18s premiership team five years ago there'd be no dramas at all, but that isn't how it is. You develop them so they can go on to go on to bigger and better things."
Hughes admitted it was a weight off the shoulders when Temora withdrew.
"When we pulled out it was a big relief because I've got other things to worry about and so do others," he said.
"I'd moved on in my mind and if we had to start again I'd do it, but it would probably test my passion.
"All the code's administrators are going to do the right thing by their sport, as they don't want to be the one to pull the pin so kids can walk away and play Aussie Rules or union.
"We've got a big problem here where we're a four team town - we're too small."