RUGBY LEAGUE: Sunshine Coast Falcons CEO Chris Flannery says the club and the region is well placed for changes to the game's pathways in 2018.
The nationwide under-20s competition, the National Youth Competition, will be disbanded.
Instead, there will be more emphasis on the state league premierships in New South Wales and Queensland and the introduction of state-wide under-20s competitions.
"We're looking forward to the NYC going at the end of next year," Flannery said.
"That will make the pathway to the NRL a bit clearer, with the Queensland and NSW (state league) competitions moving to be the rightful second tiers behind the NRL."
The state-wide under-20 competitions will essentially be the third tier in the game.
NRL clubs have been urged to form relationships with two of these teams.
The Falcons, which competes in the Queensland state league and has an established affiliation with Melbourne Storm, already has an under-20s team which could essentially move straight into the new structure.
It's 20s team competed in a south-east Queensland league and will next year take part in an abridged state-wide competition.
"We're in a really strong position moving forward," Flannery said. "Its going to be a perfect set-up."
Theoretically, the region's talented young players could progress from Coast junior footy to the Falcons under-20s, then to the Falcons state league side and then to the Storm.
"That's great for local kids and local families," he said.
"To have that pathway on their doorstep is really lucky."
The disbanding of the NYC will see the end of the Storm's youth side, which played out of Sunshine Coast Stadium this year and will do so next year.
But Flannery suggested some of those players could be "funnelled" into the Falcons.
The NYC is not regarded as the most appropriate pathway for young players. It has also become costly to run and has been identified as putting undue pressure on young players coming through the ranks.
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