New state competitions to shake up Australian development

The NRL is set to alter the way that the second tier New South Wales Premiership and Queensland Cup are structured, in order to help improve the development of young players.

The two second tier competitions in Australia are to be decentralised, and expanded to 16 teams each, with the new competitions kicking off in two years time.

Reports from Down Under imply that this could mean a second New Zealand team joining the NSW comp, while Fiji also look set to have a team in that league.

Teams from Northern Territory, Toowomba and Western Australia may also join the Queensland Cup.

All NRL clubs are expected to form affiliations with two of the teams, in order to develop talent for the Telstra Premiership.

This new concept will replace the National Youth Competition (NYC), which has become increasingly pressurised and expensive to run, and is seen as being damaging the welfare and health of young players.

NRL head of football Brian Canavan explained that the new competitions are designed to refine and improve the way youth talent comes through the ranks.

“The new model is designed to provide a clearer pathway for elite junior players aiming to play in the NRL,” he told NRL.com.

“We have been concerned for some time about the welfare issues affecting many young players struggling to cope with the pressures of the NYC.

“This model will enable more juniors to stay at home, rather than having to move away from their families, to play rugby league.

“And it will enable us to expand the game into regional and neighbouring overseas countries which we envisage will become part of the new State based competitions.

“It will also result in significant savings for clubs as they reduce their NYC costs and invest in the State League competitions instead.

“The States will continue to operate their traditional junior competitions and State based Under 20s competitions.

“But players from New Zealand and country regions will be able to stay in the game without having to leave home.

“We believe this is the best way to expand the game in the short term – and create a sustainable competition structure for the long term.”

The NRL is currently working with the Rugby League Players Association to increase the number of players that clubs can include in their full time squad. Those who fail to make the final NRL squad will return to play in the State Cup.

Salary limitations for State Cup and the State Youth Cup are also being discussed with the RLPA.

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