Corrimal's premiership defence has taken a significant hit after former A-League striker Mark Bridge confirmed he won't join the Premier League in 2020.
The Rangers announced the ex-Western Sydney Wanderer's signing in March and, as recently last week, coach Rob Jonovski had indicated Bridge would represent his club for free as it looks to bounce back from the financial hit caused by COVID-19.
However, the IPL has now lost their major drawcard after Bridge, 34, bailed on playing due to work commitments. Jonovski told the Mercury that it was disappointing to lose Bridge but he respected his decision to put family and work first.
"I'm gutted and he's gutted too, but I said to him 'look, you've got to look after your family mate. Don't stress'," the Corrimal coach said.
"Obviously we're disappointed he's not going to play, but family comes first: these are unprecedented times. But it's disappointing for me and for the league in general."
It's disappointing for me and for the league in general.Rob Jonovski
Bridge's departure follows the news that Kenta Fujishiro and Taira Yoshimura had headed home to Japan due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
There has also been speculations about whether Van Elia will return to the 2019 IPL champions, however, Jonovski confirmed his attacking weapon had been training with the club.
"At the moment, with coronavirus and these restrictions, things have changed for everyone. I'm hearing that players are dropping like flies for other teams across the board as well," he said.
"But Van is training with us and he's buzzing, he's super keen to get the show going. We've lost our Japanese pair, we've lost 'Bridgey' and we're going to have a few holes in our team. But there's a couple of young kids who can step up and do the job."
Last week, Jonovski told the Mercury that his players had shown a united front after all agreed to play for free during the 2020 season.
"I spoke to my players one by one and told them there was no money. But at the end of the day, they just want to play football," he said.
"There is still a lot of quality but there are a couple of kids who will get their first grade debut this year."
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