File photo from an NRRRL game between Casino and Murwillumbah earlier this season. The Cougars season has finished after plans for a preliminary final rematch against the Mustangs were scrapped.
File photo from an NRRRL game between Casino and Murwillumbah earlier this season. The Cougars season has finished after plans for a preliminary final rematch against the Mustangs were scrapped.

Casino Cougars gutted by NRRRL decision

THE Casino Cougars have been left gutted after plans for a rematch against Murwillumbah in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League preliminary final were scrapped.

Players and supporters have taken to the clubs Facebook page to voice their frustrations at the NRRRL for not allowing the game to take place.

It was decided Murwillumbah will take on Cudgen in the grand final on Sunday, just one week after the sudden death of Mustangs second-rower Grant Cook.

Cook, 28, died in hospital on the Gold Coast after he collapsed on the sideline during the preliminary final against Casino at Stan Sercombe Oval, Murwillumbah.

The game was called off at half time with Murwillumbah leading 8-4 with the eventual decision made by the NRRRL management committee after consultation with Country Rugby League.

First grade lock James Rock and front-rower Jack Wilder both played in the game and have had a hard time accepting what has happened.

"I think the hardest part is ending our season with this," Rock said on the clubs Facebook page.

"As a player stepping on that field again, it will definitely be on the back of my mind , and now that has to build up over the whole off season, which could lead to players not playing next year and people never really getting over it."

Wilder echoed his thoughts by saying "Not wrong James Rock, it will be hard to return after this."

It was a case of bad timing for the Cougars who were one win away from its first grand final appearance since 1999.

Casino was hopeful of going on and breaking a 26-year premiership drought with its last grand final win in 1990.

Former player and a previous club president Dene Petty weighed in on the debate.

"I have just one question I would like answered please," he said.

"Why wasn't the grand final moved one week back and the Casino-Murwillumbah game played this weekend?"

Most of the comments on the page agreed the grand final should be pushed back a week but Sam Dietrich had other ideas.

"In real respect for cookie (Grant Cook) the premiership should be split three ways (between) Casino Murbah and Cudgen," he said.

"No advantage or disadvantage to anyone in a horrible time for the game, after all a player is worth more than a game."

NRRRL president Brian Rix had the following to say in a press release that explained why the decision was made.

"The tragic circumstances have made this very difficult but under the rules of Country Rugby League, I believe we have made the right decision," he said.



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