Deflated Wauchope Blues co-captain Beau Kettle has acknowledged NSWRL were left with little choice than to cancel all community competitions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The undefeated Blues were one win away from their second-straight Group 3 grand final when the decision to call full-time on the season was officially handed down on September 14.
"We were all expecting it, but they let us hang on there for a while and linger in the dark. It didn't come as a surprise, it's just disheartening for all the effort you put in to see it go away like this," Kettle said.
"It's a bit deflating really."
A 28-all draw with Port Macquarie in round two was the only time Wauchope didn't sing their victory song in a comprehensively successful season for the club.
They made little secret their success was built on the motivation of doing it for club president Ged Roods who passed away in 2020.
Kettle said that would again be a motivating factor in 2022.
"That will be one of our striving forces at the start of the year. We're going to be doing it for Ged again because we've got unfinished business," he said.
"It's not our fault we didn't finish it off but we'll definitely go out in 2022 to do it again."
The co-captain admitted it was a "kick in the guts" to not have the opportunity to complete the season in an outdoor setting when other indoor settings were returning to a COVID-normal life.
"We've been training since January and busting our bums to get to where we were and that's where we wanted to be," he said.
"To end up like this when you can still go to the pub and have a group of people indoors, but you can't play football is a bit of a kick in the guts really."
While the NSW Government recently announced easing to some restrictions in various areas of NSW, the NSWRL was advised that the Public Health Orders did not allow for organised or competitive community sport to recommence.
NSWRL head of football Robert Lowrie said the present ambiguity relating to vaccination targets and related requirements for community sport was another key factor considered by NSWRL before confirming the cancellation.
"I thank all stakeholders for their tireless efforts in trying to get community football back on the field but unfortunately it is no longer feasible," Mr Lowrie said.
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