Developing a pathway for local talent to progress through the rugby league ranks – without the need to move away from familiar surroundings – is at the heart of changes made to next year’s competition structures.
The restructure adopts a statewide focus and is a critical undertaking as the game prepares for the disbandment of the current NYC format in 2018.
In 2017, the Queensland Rugby League will:
· Cease the Cyril Connell Cup (Under 16) competition with players in this age group to instead compete at the QRL State Junior Championships held on the Sunshine Coast in June-July. (Championships also include Under 14 boys and girls, as well as Under 16 girls)
· Run the Mal Meninga Cup (Under 18) statewide competition.
· Introduce a statewide Under 20s competition to be played at the start of the season.
· Conduct a shortened FOGS Colts Challenge for South East teams following the completion of the statewide Under 20s.
Both the Mal Meninga Cup and statewide Under 20s are likely to be played over an eight-week period and will be aligned with the Intrust Super Cup.
In consultation with clubs, the QRL is currently drafting competition draws and working on other key requirements.
QRL Head of Football Neil Wharton said the new season was effectively a trial period in preparation for 2018.
“The exact structure of our elite junior competitions in 2018 is still a work in progress as there are a number of options available in regards to the length of our statewide Under 20s competition,” Wharton said.
“We’ll continue to have a voice in the whole of game discussions with all key stakeholders to ensure we get the best possible outcome.
“Our immediate focus is to now ensure a smooth transition into the new 2017 competitions.”
With a strong statewide focus, Wharton said it is an exciting time to be involved in the game.
“We’re pleased with the framework already in place for next year,” he said.
“Player welfare is a priority, which is why we’re proud of the fact that our young talent will have the opportunity to represent their region without having to move away from home.”