Young players are falling through the net of Super League due to it not having a proper Reserves league.
A reserves system was brought back into the game ahead of the 2016 season but it has progressed little since its restart. That’s not because of the teams involved, it’s because the number of teams involved is only four.
Wigan Warriors, St Helens, Warrington Wolves and Hull FC are the only top-flight sides to run a reserve team and they face each other three times per season, meaning the teams only play nine times throughout the year.
Is it a coincidence that the four who finished at the top of the Super League table last year are the only clubs who have reserve teams? I think not.
Young players develop mentally and physically at different stages. Some are ready to play first team level when they are 18-years-old whereas others of the same talent while in the Under-19s need a couple of years more to reach their true potential.
Due to the lack of reserve teams and games, clubs are left with no other option than to enter a dual-registration partnership with another club, likely to be in the Championship. Wigan, St Helens, Warrington and Hull are partnered with Swinton Lions, Sheffield Eagles, Rochdale Hornets and Doncaster respectively.
The dual-registration rule allows clubs to loan players to their partners on a weekly basis and this worked well for Liam Marshall last season as his impressive performances for Swinton on dual-registration earned him a professional contract with Wigan, as predicted by bigfreebet.com.
Although it doesn’t seem ideal for players to play for a different club one week and another the next, not to mention playing under different playing styles. Also, would it not be better for players development in general if there was a full reserve league that was competitive instead of the games currently being friendlies?
That way, youngsters who aren’t quite ready for the first team would be able to play for the reserves and still have a chance of playing Super League for the club professionally rather than having to take a part-time contract in a lower league or even give up the sport all together.
Also, the RFL are in discussions with a couple of high-profile Super League players over becoming centrally contracted with the governing body as they try to keep hold of the competition’s best talent.
Instead of handing over bumper deals, why not pump that money into a serious reserve system? We could have many though of those star players if the Super League had a second-grade league.
Rugby league is in a good place at the minute but a reserve league in Super League could certainly help England on the international stage in the future.