CLOUDED FUTURE: Springfield Panthers won the IRL under-18 title last year but are facing the prospect of a merger with neighbours Redbank Plains in 2014.
CLOUDED FUTURE: Springfield Panthers won the IRL under-18 title last year but are facing the prospect of a merger with neighbours Redbank Plains in 2014. Rob Williams

Merger of Ipswich clubs already appears doomed

A PROPOSED merger between Springfield Panthers and Redbank Plains Bears for next year's Ipswich Rugby League looks over before it begins.

Redbank Plains have come to an agreement with the IRL to delay any merger until 2014 and Springfield Panthers president Rodney Stotschek has confirmed his club wants to "go it alone" beyond that date.

Both clubs will meet with the IRL on October 30 to discuss the merger plan where they expect the IRL to confirm the idea is non-negotiable.

IRL chairman Jack Rhea confirmed the IRL wouldn't rush the process but was committed to merging the clubs for the betterment of the game.

"We are planning to introduce the recommendations of Brian Canavan's report," Rhea said.

"It's the right thing to do. Brian is a smart operator, highlighted by the fact the Roosters have got him on board. We won't be forcing clubs to do anything but we want to do what is best for rugby league in Ipswich and this is it."

Both clubs were part of the diabolical Challenge Cup competition this year that saw two clubs, including Redbank Plains, drop out and the competition finish with only three teams.

Stotschek said that was the primary reason behind his club's struggles this year and wasn't a true reflection of the strength of the club.

"We just couldn't keep players this year when they only had a game one week in three," he said.

"I believe we could have won the comp again as well as second division if we hadn't lost players to Brisbane. The IRL wants the clubs to vote on mergers but no-one wants to do that until the nuts and bolts about how the competition will work is finalised.

"Personally, I don't think mergers will work. I think it will just push players to rugby union.

"I don't think it's really a possibility and we'll use next year to prove the point again that we are a competitive team on our own."

The feeling at Redbank Plains was similar although president Jodie Elder conceded if it had to happen, it would be at least a year away. "I wasn't happy when I first heard about it," Elder said.

"We have worked tirelessly to create a positive culture for this club and I feel we can stand alone.

"But if it is inevitable then we want to be a major player in what the new club looks like.

"We expect to have plenty of input into how it is set up, where and how it's run."

Elder confirmed her club was continuing to grow towards a standalone club from junior to senior ranks and would do so until any concrete decisions about the competition were made.

Stotschek said the Panthers committee was planning for next season and addressing the club's biggest financial concern - the lack of a fenced home venue.



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