RUGBY LEAGUE: A statewide under-20s competition will be introduced in Queensland next season as the QRL prepares for the disbandment of the NRL's National Youth Competition (Holden Cup) in 2018.
The move is set to provide a simpler pathway for players in the north of the state, with teams to be alinged to Intrust Super Cup outfits.
The competition is set to be run over eight weeks early in the season, with a shortened FOGS Colts Challenge to be run for the remainder of the season.
As it stands, the state's premier under-20s competition is staged in the South East corner.
Other changes include the scrapping of the Cyrill Connel Cup (under-16), with the state's best players to represent their regions at the State Championships on the Sunshine Coast in June and July.
Queensland's premier under-18 competition, the Mal Meninga Cup, will go ahead as normal.
The QRL believes the changes will allow young players to play high quality football without the need to move away from home.
QRL Head of Football Neil Wharton said the new season was effectively a trial period in preparation for 2018.
"The exact structure of our elite junior competitions in 2018 is still a work in progress as there are a number of options available in regards to the length of our statewide Under 20s competition,” Wharton said.
"We'll continue to have a voice in the whole of game discussions with all key stakeholders to ensure we get the best possible outcome.
"Our immediate focus is to now ensure a smooth transition into the new 2017 competitions.”
Wharton said it is an exciting time to be involved in the game.
"We're pleased with the framework already in place for next year,” he said.
"Player welfare is a priority, which is why we're proud of the fact that our young talent will have the opportunity to represent their region without having to move away from home.”
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