FORGET the mud-covered footy shorts or the blood-stained jersey, it seems the real dirty laundry in the Penrith and Districts Junior Rugby League is the prevalence of poaching.
"It's pretty rife," an anonymous club official told the Star.
"We struggle to secure a lot of good talent within our Sunday side because they get to a certain age group, 16s or 17s, and a lot of the bigger clubs start to poach them."
While the club official condemned the concept of poaching, and said in previous years their club had lost whole sides to other districts and clubs, the club official also admitted his club was guilty of the controversial act.
"I can't sit here and bag other people because we do the same as well," the club official said.
"But not to the extent of others.
"We've approached players before in the past and we'll continue to do so in the future.
"I'd be a two-faced liar if I said we didn't approach people — I don't like the word poach — we approach people and ask if they want to come, if so great, if not, we leave it at that.
"You have to do it to survive — if you don't do it you're going to languish near the bottom."
Brothers Penrith Junior Rugby League Club club secretary Chris Hobbs said poaching occurred "at almost every level of competition in the game" but denied any knowledge of his club poaching players.
"It exists, I don't think it's huge . . . it definitely occurs," Mr Hobbs said.
"There are clubs in our district who in the past have sent letters out to players in other clubs, inviting them to come along to trial, and I think that's rubbish.
"I've been involved for 30 odd years and I've never seen or heard of any of our coaches sending out letters.
"To the best of my knowledge they haven't offered incentives — I can't say it has never occurred, I can only say to what I'm aware."
Mr Hobbs agreed there was a blurry line between a club poaching a player and a well-managed club with strong financial backing simply attracting players through their professional reputation.
"The question then becomes - is that poaching?
"Success breeds success."
St Marys Rugby League administrative officer Doug Falconer defined poaching as when coaches seek out players and "promise them a heap of things and entice the kid over".
He also denied St Marys poached players but said 80 or 90 of its players transferred each year.
"We don't go out and poach players . . . no, kids come here on their own accord," Mr Falconer said.
"We don't endorse it but it just happens as part of the game, there's nothing much you can do about it.
"I don't want to mention names, there are a couple of clubs that go out there and make a point of poaching, they won't develop themselves, they just grab the best of the other clubs.
"I don't think you can stop it at this point in time, they'll [clubs] agree in principal but as soon as you close the door, they'll keep going, they'll keep doing the same thing.
"It's not so much the clubs, it's the coaches - they've got the mentality they've got to win to keep their positions.
"If they don't win, they get the sack, so they go out and poach players to make sure they're stronger."