Finals eligibility - who can and can't play for your team

With the Intrust Super Cup and Hastings Deering Colts finals now upon us, there is plenty interest in who is facing who and where, and also; which players are eligible to feature in the finals.

At the start of the season, eligibility criteria was outlined in the Queensland Rugby League statewide competitions operations manual.

In a nutshell:

If a player has taken part in five (5) Intrust Super Cup games in the season, regardless of the number of NRL matches they have played – they are eligible to play in the Intrust Super Cup finals.

If a player has played in one (1) Hastings Deering Colts game, regardless of the number of higher level matches played, they are eligible to play in the Hastings Deering Colts finals.

Unlike the regular season, a player is not able to play in the finals of two different competitions on the same weekend (see Izaia Perese for the Broncos and Redcliffe in Round 21), unless the lower team has played first (refer to section 11.9 in the operations manual).

The relevant section regarding all finals eligibility rules can be referenced under Section 11 – Eligibility – fixtures and finals.

Eligibility – Fixtures and Finals

There are four eligibility categories for final series qualifications: 

Level One: NRL Telstra Premiership (highest level) 

Level Two: Intrust Super Cup

Level Three: Local League open age competitions  (exclusive to A Grade or Division 1)

Level Four: Under Age – ie Hastings Deering Colts / Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup (lowest level)

Qualification starts at the beginning of each premiership competition and ends on the completion of each competition’s premiership rounds. A player is deemed eligible for the final series of the competition where they have played the majority of games throughout the premiership season.

If a player has participated in an equal amount of premiership competition matches in multiple levels of competitions, the player shall be deemed qualified for the lower level.

This is where things get interesting ...

A player who has qualified for a lower level competition finals series will always be eligible to participate in the final series of a higher-level competition.

If a player has participated in five (5) games or more in any open aged competitions (Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3)  or one (1) game or more in any under aged competitions (Level 4 – Hastings Deering Colts or Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup) throughout the season, the player will be deemed eligible to compete in that competitions’ finals series (or a higher Level), regardless of whether the player has played a majority of games in that competition.

If a player has not played a majority of games in a particular competition (or has not participated in five Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 games or one Level 4 game), they will not be eligible for finals - unless the higher-level team is still competing, but has a bye in their relevant final series, then players are eligible to play for the lower level team, provided they have played at least one match for the lower level team during the regular season.

A higher-level qualified player who has failed to gain selection in that team is deemed eligible to play in a lower level finals series provided they have played at least one (1) regular season match at the lower level.

A player whose team is eliminated from a higher-level competition must have played a minimum of one (1) finals series match to be deemed eligible to continue in lower level finals series, therefore eliminating any of the previous eligibility rules.

In practical terms – teams like the Easts Tigers would not have been able to name a Melbourne Storm contracted player such as Brodie Croft in their finals side, even if he had not been selected in the NRL side this weekend as he has not played any Intrust Super Cup this season.

However, the Burleigh Bears are entitled to name Anthony Don (which they did in the team lists) as even though he has only played three Intrust Super Cup games so far and 17 in the NRL; he was not named in the 17 for the Gold Coast Titans (higher ranked competition) for their final round match this weekend.

Finals Eligibility - general rules

Statewide Under 20 player examples at a glance:

Player has played 1 x Hastings Deering Colts and 0 x Intrust Super Cup = Yes, eligible to play Hastings Deering Colts and Intrust Super Cup finals

Player has played 4 x Hastings Deering Colts & 10 Intrust Super Cup = Yes, eligible to play Hastings Deering Colts & Intrust Super Cup finals

Player has played 0 x Hastings Deering Colts & 4 x Intrust Super Cup = No, not eligible to play Hastings Deering Colts but can play Intrust Super Cup finals

NRL player examples at a glance:

Player has played 10 x NRL games, 4 x Intrust Super Cup games (but not selected in NRL Round 25), 1 x Intrust Super Cup Week 1 finals = Yes, eligible to play remaining Intrust Super Cup finals

Player has played 5 x NRL Games, 5 x Intrust Super Cup games, 0 x Intrust Super Cup Week 1 finals = Yes, eligible to play remaining Intrust Super Cup finals

Player has played 5 x NRL Games, 1 x Intrust Super Cup game, (but not selected in NRL Round 25) = Yes, eligible to play Intrust Super Cup finals

Player has played 8 x NRL Games, 0 x Intrust Super Cup game, (but not selected in NRL Round 25) = No, not eligible to play Intrust Super Cup finals