Mortlock Shield to have six teams competing

STEP ASIDE: The reigning Mortlock Shield champions, the Eyre Peninsula Sharks will step aside from competing in the 2019 Mortlock Shield.
STEP ASIDE: The reigning Mortlock Shield champions, the Eyre Peninsula Sharks will step aside from competing in the 2019 Mortlock Shield.

The future of the Mortlock Shield is under a microscope after it was announced this week the carnival will be reduced to a six team competition.

The Mortlock Shield Committee held a meeting on Sunday where competing leagues ratified key changes for this year's carnival.

The Far North Football League decided to withdraw from the carnival and as result reigning champions, Eyre Peninsula Sharks, made up of former EP footballers agreed to step aside for 12 months.

This will allow an even six-team format with three full games on each day, however details such as the length of quarters are still being determined.

Sharks co-founder Joe Pedler said the team was founded to have an even number of teams.

Six teams will compete for the Mortlock Shield in 2019.

Six teams will compete for the Mortlock Shield in 2019.

"When it was proposed to go back to the (seven team) format we didn't think it was good for the carnival or the players," he said.

"Our heart is about making the carnival the best country football carnival in Australia."

Former Eyre Peninsula footballers will still have the chance to play in the Mortlock Shield with under a new 'League of Origin' format.

Each competing league will be allowed to add up to four former EP footballers, originally from their league, to their Morlock Shield teams.

SANFL Eyre Peninsula football operations manager Richard Murphy said it would be a benefit for the competition and the sides taking part.

"We've got a really strong belief that it's going to increase the standard of the competition and help sides top up players," he said.

Interim committee chairman Tony Irvine said the Sharks should be praised for putting football first to enable another successful carnival.

The Mortlock committee will continue to prepare for this year's carnival with new opportunities ahead, including the potential for a women's exhibition game to be played during the weekend.

The Eyre Peninsula Football Council is undertaking a review of the Mortlock Shield to look at potential improvements for future carnivals.

The council has planned a football and netball sustainability council at Wudinna on April 7 where the findings will be presented to the leagues who will go away and come back with written responses.

A working group, including members of all EP leagues will look at the investigation findings and league recommendations and present a recommendations to the Mortlock committee.