New competition delivers pathway for Highlands juniors

A new and exciting Under 19 competition is set to kick-off in the Central Highlands this season.

In an effort to encourage more young adults to continue playing rugby league, the new age group has been introduced after successive trials of a similar-aged format late last season.

Four teams will be involved in the new competition; with Emerald Brothers to enter a standalone team and join a combined Blackwater / Bluff, Tigers / Springsure and President’s XIII sides.

The six-round shortened season will conclude on Saturday, May 25 with the grand final between the top two teams at McIndoe Park, Emerald.

Central Highlands QRL Operations Manager Cameron Stallard said it was great the new competition would provide plenty of benefits for the game.

“We trialled a similar format last season with the Under 20 age group, and after consultation with our stakeholders, we feel by lowering the age by a year, it will really help us bridge the gap between the Junior and Senior Leagues,” Stallard said.

Harrison McIndoe (left) and Sam Cronk (right) with CQ Capras CEO Peter White after last year's Under 20 exhibition match played at the Central Highlands grand final.
Harrison McIndoe (left) and Sam Cronk (right) with CQ Capras CEO Peter White after last year's Under 20 exhibition match played at the Central Highlands grand final.

“The new competition will give young adults who have finished playing junior footy an opportunity to continue playing the greatest game of all with their mates in an age-appropriate competition, easing the massive jump to A Grade.

“The new competition will also provide us with a direct pathway to the CQ Capras Under 18 and 20 programs with 10 local players selected at the end of last season to join their 2019 train-on squads.

“I’m really looking forward to this exciting venture and hope the competition will grow in future years, strengthening the junior to senior pathway.”

*If you are aged 17-19 and interested in playing, head to PlayNRL.com and contact your local club today.