Penrith Emus President Jim Hook has hit back at reports the local rugby club is battling for its immediate survival.
Last weekend it was reported that the Emus had three months to prove they were worthy of a place in the Shute Shield competition or risk being kicked out.
Sporting News reported Penrith had to lift their game in a number of key areas to avoid being dumped from Sydney’s top rugby competition.
It’s understood the main criteria demands Penrith needs to adhere by include fielding four grade and three Colts sides each weekend, and ensuring coaching staff are properly accredited.
Speaking with the Weekender, Emus President Jim Hook confirmed the club will be playing in the Shute Shield competition this upcoming season.
“The Penrith Rugby Club are in the Shute Shield competition in 2018… we will definitely be there,” he said.
“We have had to meet some conditions going forward; those conditions are confidential with the Sydney Rugby Union.”
For decades, the Emus have underperformed on a regular basis. Results in the past have often been too embarrassing for the club to publish, and they have had four head coaches in the last four years.
When asked if Penrith’s future beyond the 2018 season would be based on performances from this year, Hook denied that was one of the conditions.
“While those conditions are confidential, that won’t be the case,” he confirmed.
Hook also revealed the club was in the middle of implementing a strategic development plan for greater western Sydney, to help develop the game from the grassroots level.
“It’s not just about Penrith, it’s about the development of rugby in greater western Sydney,” he said.
“We are working very closely with the governing body to develop this strategic plan for rugby in greater western Sydney.”
In the meantime, the Emus are still on the hunt for more players to fill the seven teams they will be fielding when competition begins this coming May.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.