With the NRL’s National under-20 competition, the Toyota Cup, being introduced in 2008, the Newtown Jets are planning to throw their support behind a new independent open-aged competition run by NSW Rugby League (NSWRL).
The NRL’s streamlined under-20s competition will run parallel to the main competition. The under-20s matches are set to be the main curtain raisers to NRL fixtures, which will leave the current Premier League competition and clubs such as Newtown, Balmain and Western Suburbs in the lurch.
NSWRL is currently taking submissions from clubs about the new stand-alone competition, and will allow the clubs a period of time to complete negotiations regarding joint ventures before it makes a final decision.
Newtown director Glen Dwyer said the Jets were confident the club would remain a viable entity in the new competition, and maintain their links with the Roosters.
“It is the firm opinion of the Jets that we will participate at the highest level NSWRL competition – whatever form of competition that may be and we will be maintaining our current relationship with the Roosters,” Dwyer said.
With clubs such as the Jets, Balmain, Wests, Norths and Auckland already indicating their desire to be involved in the competition, Dwyer said there was a need for the competition to support players over the age of 20.
“There has to be a comp because where do those guys play that are over 20? We will have a connection to the NRL through the Roosters and I imagine that most of the NRL teams would want to have that link for their older players.”
Dwyer said the Jets’ main concerns were the make-up of the competition and the fact that the competition would no longer be the curtain raiser for NRL matches.
“The first problem is will the comp be big enough because if there is less than 12 teams, will the spread of teams be enough for a strong competition? And what will the make-up of the teams be? We generate a lot of interest because we can market matches against teams like Parramatta, Balmain and Wests who we have an old rivalry with. If there are joint ventures and new teams that are part of the competition, it will be harder for us to get people interested.
“We already play all of our home games at Henson Park but when we play away most of the time we are on before first grade and people who get out to watch the lower grades still see the royal blue jumper running around. It looks like we won’t have that anymore and we will be relying on the games with our old rivals to get people to the games,” he said.
NSWRL general manager Geoff Carr said the new competition would give NSWRL a chance to streamline all its competitions.
“We’ve been given a chance to streamline our competitions and further improve the pathways we already have for kids wanting to progress through to the elite level of football,” Mr Carr said.