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Mackillop Saints set to appeal NRL NT decision

Mitchell Hausler, Lavinia Norris and Nathan Dixon are angry that the Mackillop Saints are refused entry into NRL NT. Picture: Keri Megelus

THE Mackillop Saints are fuming that NRL NT rejected their expansion bid and will appeal the decision, the NT News has learned.

NRL NT general manager Nigel Roy informed the fledgling club on Thursday afternoon they would not be accepted into the rugby league fraternity after months of uncertainty.

Mackillop Catholic College was previously associated with the Northern Sharks in 2015-16, but parted ways to create their own entity.

Despite building an impressive bid which included a five-year strategic business and financial plan, home ground and strong field of players, Roy said he had denied the Saints because the current seven club model (including Katherine) remained the sport’s best option for growth.

“There are two rugby league clubs with an active participation base in the Palmerston region already, and at this point in time we need to ensure the prosperity of our current NRL NT clubs,” Roy said.

Mackillop president David Graham said Roy had informed him the Saints were rejected because of a “general decline in recreational activity by all members of the community.”

The Saints told the NT News that Roy provided no evidence to back up his statement.

“Data from the ABS shows Palmerston South grew by 26 per cent last year, effectively making the area around Mackillop Catholic College the NT’s fastest growing,” Graham said.

“Each year Mackillop rugby league programs have recorded a growth of at least 50 students per year since 2012. Every sporting, cultural and community entity attached to our college has experienced uninterrupted, exponential growth in the last six years.

“Our club is bitterly disappointed with this outcome and will be immediately mounting an appeal to dispute the decision and the manner, consultation and process, with which ultimately no outcome was reached.

“The most disappointing element is that we were never provided with the process with which the decision on our bid would be made. Without a transparent process and an understanding of the consultation involved, we have real concerns of whether due diligence was indeed afforded.”

All six Darwin rugby league clubs voted against the Saints inclusion at a stakeholders meeting last year.

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