GLADSTONE District Senior and Senior Rugby League chairman Richard Duff says changes implemented by the Queensland Rugby League for the 2017 augers well for local talent.
The new model is designed to develop pathways for youngsters who are keen to stay at home rather than face the anxiety of moving away to help further their careers.
The state-wide restructure will begin to take affect next year when the under-16 Cyril Connell Cup format will be replaced by the Queensland Rugby League State Junior Championships which will be held on the Sunshine Coast in June and July.
"It's been worked on for a long time and it's brilliant because it gives kids aged 15-17 a pathway where now they can stay home and sleep in their own beds,” Duff said of the positive changes.
Duff added that the state-wide under-20 competition next year will be a shortened version ahead of a shortened Former Origin Greats (FOGS) Colts Challenge for South East teams.
"In 2018 you can not only watch the Intrust Cup, but the under-20 game before it because that competition will tie in with the Intrust Cup,” Duff said.
Another competition that will be run is the state-wide under-18 Mal Meninga Cup which will tie in with the Queensland-wide under-20s over an eight-week period so that both age-groups link up with the Intrust Super Cup in 2017.
"This will be great for the Capras because the game before the Capras will be part of the Intrust Super Cup,” Duff said.
Queensland head of football Neil Wharton said 2017 will be an 'experimentation' before the commencement of the new model in 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 state-wide under-20 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 the state-wide focus adds excitement because of its potential to help develop youngsters toward Intrust Cup standard.
"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.”
QRL State Junior Championships (formerly the Cyril Connell Cup)
Mal Meninga Cup U18 state-wide competition
State-wide U20 competition
A shortened FOGS Colts Challenge for SE teams after the U20 competition