QUEANBEYAN coach Kade Klemke thinks it will be five years before the eastern conference can compete consistently with its northern neighbours in the NEAFL after Southport belted the Tigers by 55 points at Queanbeyan yesterday.
Klemke said the Queensland lifestyle made it hard for Canberra clubs to recruit VFL-standard players and thought targeting country footballers from Victoria and NSW and developing them was a more realistic approach.
It's an idea he's used to great effect at the Tigers already this season, lifting last year's second-bottom side to second this season and the highest-ranked Canberra side.
Klemke, his cousin Ben Klemke and Jarrod Atkinson were all recruited from country clubs.
Sharks ruckman Dan Weymouth highlighted the riches available in country Victoria. Weymouth was a star at Ballarat club Lake Wendouree, playing in the club's first ever premiership in 2010 before moving to Queensland.
Yesterday, he dominated the hit-outs and was a major reason behind Southport's third-quarter blitz of seven unanswered goals, which ended the game as a contest despite just 16 points separating the teams at half-time.
Until then it had been an even and entertaining game, but Southport's midfield completely overran the Tigers and Arnold Knight (two goals) was one of the main culprits.
It allowed the Sharks forwards - Josh Baxter (four), Josh Milani (three) and Cleve Hughes (two) - to run riot as well.
''It just shows the gap between the northern conference and the eastern conference. I think we already knew the conference up there was a step ahead of us,'' Klemke said.
''They're probably five years ahead of us in their development.
''It's always going to be hard to compete with Queensland [to recruit] with the heat up there.
''That's why we've really got to look hard for a lot of country guys playing out in NSW or even Victoria country, they should be our biggest pool. Unless you've got a lot of money to get those VFL or SANFL [players], those guys prefer to go up to somewhere like Queensland.''
Ironically, Klemke's comments come on the back of Eastlake's 38-point win over Aspley last week, while lowly Belconnen pushed Redlands to a six-point loss in Brisbane yesterday.