The end of an era in Australian Rugby League is within sight – and according to opposing coaches Garth Brennan and Steve Georgallis, that can only be a good thing.
Just three weekends remain in the final Holden Cup, before the strategic transition into a state-based under-20s competition next year. Since its inception in 2008, the National Youth Competition has showcased the game’s best emerging talent on a prominent stage, but the NRL last year announced that its 10th season would be its last. Before they go head to head in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW on Sunday afternoon, Brennan and Georgallis explain how the move will affect their own roles at the Panthers and Bulldogs respectively in 2018.
“I think it’ll make the ISP competition stronger,” Brennan tells NSWRL.com.au. “Most clubs these days put their best ’20s players up into the Intrust Super Premiership NSW anyway – I know we do that at Penrith.
“I think it will be a boost to the ISP competition by having the best of the ’20s playing up, so it should be exciting.”
Like Brennan, Georgallis was uncertain exactly what effects the new league will have, but predicted a clearer pathway for players and coaches alike.
“I think no one really knows how it’s going to work,” Georgallis admits. “I’m assuming ’20s will run under the (Intrust Super Premiership NSW) which gives the ISP access to ’20s players if they’re playing on the same day.
“It gives them a little bit more fluency because at the moment, ’20s are playing on the same day as the NRL – and ’20s players aren’t really going up to the NRL or sitting on the bench, but the ISP players are.”
“I think that’ll help with the ’20s playing before the (Intrust Super Premiership NSW). Hopefully they have a relationship, so your best younger players are actually learning the game in ISP and then that step up to first grade is not as massive as from ’20s.
“I think that’ll be a bonus for the competition next year.”
While the new competition appears likely to deliver more younger players to the NSWRL’s top league in 2018, the existing system could provide a headache for Brennan this weekend. The Panthers will take on the Broncos in the semi finals of both the NRL and Holden Cup on Friday night, while the Bulldogs will have their entire squad available for selection in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW.
Georgallis, who worked alongside Brennan at the Panthers in 2016, will this weekend face off with his former colleague for a place in the grand final. The match will be broadcast live on Fox League from 3:15pm AEST on Sunday afternoon.
The NSWRL senior competitions’ finals series, covered like never before on NSWRL.com.au and the NSWRL Facebook page, culminate on Grand Final Day at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday 24 September. Be there to witness history, with tickets just $10 for adults and children under 12 free.