THE Cootamundra Strikers have become the second team in the town to confirm their withdrawal from first grade action this year.
Co-coach Joshua Purtell confirmed the club had decided not to participate in Football Wagga's Pascoe Cup men's competition due to a lack of player numbers.
They join Group Nine Rugby League's Cootamundra Bulldogs in pulling out of first grade due to the coronavirus crisis.
Purtell said the Strikers would still have a presence this year with women's and third grade teams to play, but said being forced out of first grade for the first time in club history was disappointing.
"We've decided not to play first grade (this year)," he said.
"We asked around all the boys and there wasn't too many that were keen for it to go ahead. We'll have a break and come back next year.
"That's probably a little bit disappointing, it's a proud little club and I don't think they've had to miss a year of first grade since it's been founded.
"But the situation we're in, we probably thought it was the best decision.
"There was probably a bit over half who didn't really want to play and some others who did. But it would have been too much of an ask to ask players to play half of reserve grade, then half of first grade."
The Strikers endured a tough year in first grade last season, finishing with just three competition points from 18 games.
They were hammered twice by eventual champions Hanwood 11-0 and 18-0 in collecting the wooden spoon with a -97 goal difference.
"We had a really tough year last year as well, that didn't help I don't think," Purtell said.
"I thought (before the virus) we were travelling really well.
"Brett Farnsworth came back to play, Dylan Berkrey who is usually overseas a lot was here for the full year. Just having those two would have helped massively in my opinion, they're probably two of the better players in the league."
The Strikers also had new lights installed at O'Connor Park, which they felt would breathe new life into the club.
"We were planning on a few Saturday night games to get families and sponsors involved," Purtell said.
"Before all this happened we had a trial game on a Saturday night against Wagga United and it was the biggest crowd we had in a long time.
"It's a bit of a shame we couldn't continue that on.
"Coota's got a first grade in every code. Some towns around the place just have one, you're strapped for numbers across the board in a way.
"You want to make sure everyone's happy outside of football first, and then worry about coming back then."