Group 11 president Bob Walsh expects the Mudgee Dragons to be part of Group 11 next season.
His statement came after the Dragons announced they would again be applying to move from the neighbouring Group 10 to the Group 11 competition.
The Dragons shocked bush footy fans when they announced in 2019 they were pushing for a change of competition, and while the application failed then they have remained keen on the idea ever since.
A desire to be part of a strong and consistent competition that would reinvigorate the club is the main reason behind the push and it is set to be voted on at the Group 11 annual general meeting on November 28.
The move would also have to be ratified by the Western Rams and NSW Rugby League.
After speaking to the Dragons in recent weeks and receiving a positive reaction at Wednesday night's Group 11 meeting, Walsh said his gut feel was the move would happen.
"We'd welcome them and it would strengthen Group 11," he said.
While uncertainty remains relating to what competition in the region will look next year - plans for the western-wide Peter McDonald Premiership involving a Group 11 conference and a Group 10 conference are continuing - the Dragons are keen to move regardless.
Sebastian Flack, the president of the Dragons, said a switch would improve the overall state of his club.
While all bush footy competitions have suffered during COVID the past two years, Group 10 was particularly impacted as Cowra and Blayney pulled out of the first grade competition in 2021 while Lithgow forfeited a number of matches late in the campaign to player number issues.
That came after the Oberon Tigers withdrew from Group 10 following the 2019 season.
"It was very stop-start in Group 10 last year and participation was down and crowds were down and there was all sorts of things," Flack said.
"We hope a change spruces it up and gets more interest in the town and club. Group 11 has a full compliment of first grade, reserve grade, juniors, and league tag so you're setting yourself up for success there rather than teams dropping out in Group 10 and clubs that can't field all teams being accepted."
We're keen to get out to all the new spots and get some new rivalries and new relationships.Sebastian Flack
It is believed all Group 11 clubs are open to the move, with geography posing no issue.
Mudgee is based on the border of the current Group 10 structure and would only be a slightly further trip than the one to Forbes for a club like Nyngan.
"You've got be confident and hopeful," Flack added.
"At the end of the day, all we can do is ask, apply, and put our case forward. The rest is out of our hands.
"They (Group 11) are really keen on having us and I'm sure everyone would be keen to get to Glen Willow and have a game. We're keen to get out to all the new spots and get some new rivalries and new relationships."
Mudgee's plan comes as another blow for Group 10 and competition chairman Linore Zamparini said it was extremely disappointing to receive an email from the Dragons last week informing him of their plans.
While the Dragons have been unsuccessful in their bid the past two years, Zamparini stated they have "done their homework and due diligence".
"It would be very disappointing because all clubs are rebuilding after the situation we've had with COVID. Group 11 would open their arms to another club through, it would be great for them," Zamparini said.
"We will play a role. Mudgee should put their case to Group 10 about why they want to go. They've obviously got a plan but it's got to be ratified by Western Rams."
"NSWRL has to rubber stamp it and if there's any concerns from Group 11, the Rams, Group 10, or Mudgee those concerns would have to be addressed.
"That's why they put boundaries in place, to protect competitions and club.
"They're a great team and they've got great sponsors up there so they're looking at how they can move and grow."
The Dragons, with former NRL player Jack Littlejohn as captain-coach and halfback, were third on the first grade ladder when the season was abandoned due to COVID-19 this year.
The reserve grade side was second and the juniors were fifth while the league tag team finished at the bottom of the ladder after winning just twice.
The Dragons are expected to put their case forward at the Group 11 AGM before the matter is voted on.
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