Steelers ready to fill NSW Cup void

The Illawarra Steelers are on the verge of resurrection.The Mercury understands the Steelers are in the process of developing an 11th-hour campaign to act as the St George Illawarra Dragons' feeder club in the NSW Cup this season.Their bid comes after the Shellharbour Dragons rejected St George Illawarra's latest offer, which has left the reigning NRL premiers without a feeder club for 2011.A lack of finance and a limited time-frame are the major obstacles standing between the Steelers and a return to senior football.There are only 52 days before the NSW Cup season kicks off and a decision on the Steelers' playing future is expected to be made within the next 48 hours.The Southern Marlins - the team name requested by Shellharbour when the Dragons and Canberra Raiders appeared to have agreed to terms for a NSW Cup joint-venture - will be removed from the competition draw.However, the NSWRL has thrown its support behind the Steelers and has provided the club with the opportunity to come up with a solution before substituting the Marlins for a bye.A failure to revive the Steelers will all but ensure the Dragons send their fringe first-graders back to park football to play in the Illawarra Carlton League.St George Illawarra chief Peter Doust expressed his disappointment about a series of failed attempts to secure a feeder club which included negotiations with Carlton League clubs Wests Illawarra, Dapto and Collegians as well as the Raiders."We're very disappointed that a lot of the negotiations we've been working on in recent months have been fruitless in the finish," Doust told the Mercury."We understand Shellharbour's predicament, that it is too late to secure a coach, players and sponsors."Despite the Dragons failing to nail an agreement with Shellharbour for 2011, Doust is confident the partnership will reform next year."We've already agreed with Shellharbour management to turn our head towards 2012 and work up an application to re-enter," Doust said."A lot of the circumstances we've been dealing with have become too complex at this late stage."We're still confident we'll be back in the NSW Cup in 2012."

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