Earnshaw battles to save shrinking team

VALLEYS A grade rugby league coach Aaron Earnshaw has had to watch on while more than a squad's worth of players departed the club in the eight months since the last season ended, but he has vowed to fight on.

After losing much of his 2004 squad at the end of last season, Earnshaw headed a recruitment program which again gave the Diehards a respectable look on paper.

However, he has been power-less to do anything except watch on as this year's squad has gradually been whittled away to the stage where he only has nine A grade players remaining. The majority of those who have departed the club this year, did so because of work commitments.

Among those who have left the club to pursue work are Neil Smith, Aaron Rush, Travis Ribot and Dan Ferguson while Luke Chapman (Melbourne) and in-jured pair Brian Pengelly and Mick Richards are among those also unlikely to return this season. Under-19 assistant coach and utility Murray Bale is also set to move to the Northern Territory.

Earnshaw said even more disappointing than the club's run of bad luck was the fact there were still many players' names on the books.

'It's come to crunch time where some of these guys have got to show commitment and, for the stability of the club, start helping out the blokes who are left,' Earnshaw said.

'These guys could certainly make a difference ... I'm just asking them to be fair dinkum. We don't need guys who just want to turn up on game day or come to the odd training session, but guys who are going to commit to the club.'

Earnshaw's small band of committed players, complement-ed by under-19 players willing to play twice on the same day, will clash with Yeppoon in the CQ Extended League A grade encounter at Marley Brown Oval tomorrow.

In other encounters, Wallabys travel to take on Biloela tonight, Gladstone Brothers and Rockhampton Brothers clash in Rockhampton tonight and FitzroyGracemere and CQU Norths meet in Rockhampton tomorrow.

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