Axemen and Magpies to join forces in 2024

The Orara Valley Axemen have merged with the Bellingen Valley/Dorrigo Magpies.

TWO GROUP 2 Rugby League clubs are set to join forces for the 2024 season.

The Bellingen Valley/Dorrigo Magpies and Orara Valley Axemen have informed Group 2 Rugby League officials they have formed a merger to enter teams in the 2024 competition.

The two clubs will play under the single team name of Combined Valleys.

Players will register to either club but combine to form teams based on selections by the coaching staff.

Both clubs have had recent seasons off, with the Magpies returning to Group 2 this year after having 2022 off, while the Axemen took this year off after playing in 2022.

The Axemen had a successful season when they last played in 2022, finishing runners up and minor premiers under the tutelage of former NRL star Sam Burgess.

The Magpies missed the finals in their return to the competition this year.

The addition of Combined Valleys means it will be an eight-team competition in 2024.

The Axemen have already begun preseason training for the 2024 season, every Tuesday and Thursday from 6pm at Coramba Sports Ground.

Axemen president Stevan Cetinich explained the main reasons for, and idea behind the merger with the Magpies.

“It makes sense to merge with Bellingen, as we have been in and out of the comp in recent years,” he said.

“We are not brimming with numbers, so rather than scrape together two teams we combine for one competitive team rather than anything less than that,” he said.

“The idea is to rebuild separately but play under a merged banner, and hopefully build up behind that and then separate after one or two years.

“Geographically for the long term it’s not viable, but it is viable for the short term.

“Our main goal is for the long term sustainability of both clubs.”

Cetinich shared what he was most looking forward to about the merger.

“How strong a football side we will put together, and I believe we will have a strong competitive side this season, that’s the most exciting thing,” he said.

“Playing finals is the goal and it’s definitely achievable.

“We have probably about seven from our minor premiership side in 2022, and we had about six players go and play for Bellingen this year.”


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