The Mudgee Dragons have batted away suggestions of struggles at the club despite the failure to appoint a president and uncertainty around the future of a number of players.
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The club appointed an 11-person committee at its annual general meeting on Sunday, October 22, but the president's position remains vacant after incumbent Cameron McCall stepped down from the role.
That, coupled with former NRL players Clay Priest and Jack Littlejohn taking some time to decide their futures, led to many believing something was wrong at Mudgee.
"There's been a lot of rumours and I've heard that the club's folding and stuff like that, but we're not worried and we'll be there in 2024," McCall, who remains on the committee, said.
"There was a post (on the club's social media) about looking for a president that started a few (rumours) and a few players have moved on and we obviously haven't announced any signings as of yet, but you've got to remember we were only playing in a grand final six or seven weeks ago."
The Dragons lost the 2023 Peter McDonald Premiership decider to Dubbo CYMS and since then Jayden Brown and Casey Burgess have departed the club for Denman and the chance to revive the game at Coolah respectively.
Priest, this year's player-coach, and former captain-coach Littlejohn are among others linked with moves away but McCall and the club remain calm about the situation.
Western Rams forward Priest has been taking some time away from the game after a difficult 2023 which was marred by a late six-week season suspension which ruled him out of the final series and a knee injury which he battled for most of the campaign.
"There's a lot of rumours about Clay and a lot of clubs are chasing him, which I don't blame them," McCall said.
"But he had a pretty tough end of the year missing out on the final series again. So I think he will make a decision when he's ready, but we're confident that it'll be in the Dragons' colours.
"Jack (Littlejohn), I've heard a couple of different things about him and he's here in Mudgee. He's not going anywhere."
McCall added if players are to move on they'll be wished the best and pointed to the club's success during the past decade despite the loss of the likes of Jack Afamasaga, Harry Siejka, Chanse Burgess, Nick Harvey, Ben Thompson and Tim Condon as proof of its ability to overcome.
Priest wasn't alone in wanting time away from footy after the pain of the grand final defeat to Dubbo CYMS. This year was the second in succession the Dragons had won the Group 10 minor premiership but failed to go on and claim the silverware.
The Dragons' last premiership win was a Group 10 title in 2016.
"The last thing the boys really wanted to talk about is footy but, now that the dust has settled, we'll get together with all the players from last year and the potential few recruits," McCall said.
"We're all catching up on Sunday afternoon for a few beers and to discuss what it's going to look like going forward.
"In the next couple of weeks or so, you'll see once you announce a few signings."
He is also hopeful the club will appoint a president within the next couple of weeks.
"We've got 11 committee members that have put their hand up for 2024 so it could be a case of a few of us share that responsibility.
"It is concerning but I can also see a lot of people are hesitant. It's a big job, it's a full time job and I've realised that firsthand."
The Dragons have welcomed some new members to the committee, including some from Mudgee's Western Women's Rugby League club while Elwyn Lang, a well-known local identity and former president in the 1980s, has also returned.
The club is urging anyone interested to put their hand up for the president's job during a time in which McCall said "the club hasn't been in a better position".
Mudgee and Dubbo CYMS were the only clubs in 2023 to have all four grades reach the finals.
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