The Snowy River Bears will make a welcome return to Group 16 next season.
Clubs voted unanimously to welcome the Jindabyne-based outfit back at a Group 16 meeting on Wednesday night.
After 14 years out of the competition, Bears president Gavin Patton said he was delighted to have the support from other clubs after almost five years of planning to rebuild the club.
“2004 was our last year and everyone was disappointed at the time, but we didn’t have much choice,” Mr Patton said.
“But we’re back in! We just want to get it off the ground, but we’ve seen an emphatic response of support.”
We want to bring back a bit of tradition, we’re calling on all our juniors and the kids of our former playersGavin Patton
The club’s Facebook page has almost 7000 followers, but more telling of the club’s ability to rejoin is a 33-strong playing list already and a club junior taking the reigns.
“Adam Walters is with us a captain-coach, he was a local junior and we’re excited for him to lead the side,” Mr Patton said.
First grade is already firing on all pistons, but pending discussions and numbers, Mr Patton said the club was quietly hopeful of potential to put forward all four senior sides.
Reserves is already a likely inclusion, while the club was having discussions with women’s players on Thursday night.
With the return Group 16 is likely to see 10 top grade teams take part.
The Bears will be looking to go back to their roots and bring back some ‘tradition’, donning red and black striped jumpers similar to that of the original team in 1977.
“We want to bring back a bit of tradition, we’re calling on all our juniors and the kids of our former players,” Mr Patton said.
The focus won’t solely be on seniors either, with the club already taking steps to ensure a strong junior base.
“We’ve been working on our junior leagues and having a few skill sessions with Damian Kennedy [NRL Development] who has been helping out immensely.”
After a near 15-year wait, Mr Patton is keen to see a return to the rivalry between the Bears and Cooma on the field.
“We’ve always had a good rivalry, we’re all mates, but love a contest on the field and we are looking forward to that game,” he said.
There will be no ridiculous expectations placed on the team; “we’re not going to set the place on fire, we’re just going to play the best we can,” Mr Patton said.
“We’ll win some and lose some, but hopefully we can have more wins than losses.”
Any former Bears or anyone interested in joining is encouraged to call Mr Patton on 0427 200 823.