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The NSW Rugby League has announced plans to conduct a wide-ranging review of competitions and pathways in the Newcastle/Hunter region and the Central Coast region with a view to providing a vision and plan for those competitions and pathways for the next five-year period.

Importantly, the plan will engage local stakeholders in Newcastle/Hunter and also on the Central Coast to play a key role in the development of their own competition structures and pathways within the parameters of the wider game plans and strategies.

The work on the review will commence prior to the end of this year and a completion date by June 2022 has been targeted, with a view to implementing recommendations for the 2023 season.

The review follows other recent decisions to enhance competitions including a statewide introduction of a Player Points Index System (PPIS) and also more local initiatives which involve a streamlining of the governance structures in the Newcastle/Hunter and Central Coast areas to produce a greater opportunity for consistency of competition and pathway delivery.

NSWRL Head of Football Robert Lowrie said: “This review is a really important component of our Project 2026 in one of the most strategically important areas in our state.

“We need to get competition structures absolutely right in this area for our game to have the best chance of thriving. Not only do individual competitions and pathways need to be correctly designed, but the manner in which they interact with each other needs to be carefully considered to provide the best outcome.

“Ensuring that the local stakeholders are involved in all of this planning will give us the best opportunity to have long-term sustainable competitions in the area for the benefit of our players, our clubs and the game as a whole.

“I am sure that providing the stakeholders in the area with the opportunity to take off their club hats and take a more region-wide strategic view of the game will also be welcomed by them.”

To give the plan the best chance of success, the NSWRL Board is not proposing to make any changes to competition structures for the 2022 season until the review is complete and decisions have been made, by both local stakeholders and the NSWRL, as to the long-term strategic direction of the competitions.