PRE-SEASON PUSH: Bring back organised practice matches

Xavier Leslie fires out a handball in last year's grand final.
Xavier Leslie fires out a handball in last year's grand final.

WODONGA Raiders, Corowa-Rutherglen and Myrtleford have backed calls for the Ovens and Murray to reintroduce an official pre-season competition.

With a shortage of umpires and grounds across the region at this time of year, league boss Aaron McGlynn said he was “absolutely” open to exploring the viability of a league-run practice match competition for the first time in almost 25 years.

Raiders president Nic ­Conway was the most vocal in his ­support, saying it was getting harder for clubs to organise their own games.

“I think it would be a great idea,” Conway said.

“I can’t speak for Simon (Bone) or Ben (Klemke), but I remember playing in it before and it seemed to work really well.

“It’s getting harder to get grounds and umpires and it’s worth looking at.

“Our ground will be out of action when it gets oversown soon so that’s going to make things difficult for a couple of weeks.”

Corowa-Rutherglen president Ray McLarty agreed it would help take pressure off clubs.

“Without looking at the nuts and bolts of it, it’s something I’d say we’d definitely go with,” he said.

“We have a bit of trouble co-ordinating games.

“You start off with five or six clubs interested but usually end up with two.

“It’s something that has been brought up at delegates meetings and we’re certainly open to the idea being explored.”

McGlynn said there was no point re-introducing it if clubs wouldn’t support it.

The league last ran an official pre-season competition in the early 1990s.

“It’s something that gets thrown up every couple of years,” McGlynn said.

“The main issue in the past is clubs have always shown little interest.

“We’d be open to looking at it, but it’s something that’s never garnered too much support.”

Myrtleford president Bill O’Donohue said his club would support it.

“Pre-season matches aren’t easy to organise these days and I could see benefits of the league holding one,” he said.

Added media exposure, sponsorship and cuts in travel have all been seen as potential advantages to a centralised competition.

Netball games have also been mooted.