Oberon Tigers to field men's and women's teams in 2020 New Era Cup

FROM a Group 10 premier league grand final appearance in 2017 to a New Era Cup start just three years later.

Oberon Tigers are experiencing one of the biggest challenges in the club's long, rich history and it's come just a handful of seasons after being one of Group 10's most fearsome teams.

BETTER TIMES: Oberon Tigers were part of the Group 10 grand final in 2017 (pictured) but will line up in the 2020 New Era Cup. Photo: PHIL BLATCH

BETTER TIMES: Oberon Tigers were part of the Group 10 grand final in 2017 (pictured) but will line up in the 2020 New Era Cup. Photo: PHIL BLATCH

Player shortages have forced the Tigers to field a team in next year's second tier Group 10 competition, the New Era Cup.

It's been a tumultuous off-season for the Tigers, who needed an emergency meeting to piece together a committee, then spent the past month assessing their dire player situation to determine where they'd play their football in 2020.

With poor junior numbers and a reserve grade team looking unlikely to be formed the club turned to the New Era Cup, where they would only need to field a men's team and a women's league tag side.

Tigers president Ian Christie-Johnson said it wasn't an easy decision to step back from the top level of Group 10.

"We've been thinking for a fair while about where our numbers are at. The size of the town is one of the critical issues, as well as not having enough local players," he said.

"Entering into the Group 10 competition requires a much larger player base with four or five teams in that competition. Midwest only requires us to put in two teams.

"It's definitely a step backwards for the club. Oberon has a pretty proud history of playing in an elite competition but we just don't have the numbers to sustain that.

"The numbers have fallen away in our senior and junior bases and even in our women's team. It's definitely a step backwards. If you haven't got the numbers then you haven't got the numbers."

It was known since the start of November that the Tigers would not be playing in Group 10 premier league but it was a question of where the club would play their football in 2020.

With Group 10's main competition ruled out as a possibility the club had the choice of entering either the New Era Cup or the Woodbridge Cup next season.

But with all existing Woodbridge Cup teams located around the Parkes and Orange region it made travel time a major factor.

"It's about the locality of the New Era competition," Christie-Johnson said.

"Woodbridge Cup is taking things way out of our area."

Oberon will still have a good selection of home town talent to choose from in the New Era endeavour.

The club have taken to social media in recent days to announce the likes of Nathan Booth, Sam Gascoigne, Ty Simmonds and Ryan Thompson are already committed to the team.

"Dallas Booth is committed for next year and has been busy recruiting and getting guys organised," Christie-Johnson said.

"It's always great seeing some guys putting their hand up, willing to have a go.

"It's certainly the club's ambition that we will return to the top competition but for the foreseeable future myself and club can't see that happening.

"Our junior club, where we get our player base from, hasn't been able to field sides above under 12s. Last year that's all we fielded up to, so that's six years of shortages up to the senior level."