Bush league revolution under way
CASH strapped bush league clubs can forget about putting their hand out for money in the wake of the NRL's $1.8 billion media deal.
Delegates to the Country Rugby League annual conference were asked what financial assistance they had in mind but instead of asking for dollars, Group 2 chief administrator Jim Anderson said a consensus was reached that funding development would be the priority.
"I would expect we'll get an extra three development officers in our region sooner rather than later and I believe money will be spent sending high profile players out for things like training camps," he said.
"Everybody agreed there was no sense handing cash to clubs that could easily be wasted when there is a pressing need to grow the game and get more kids playing."
Money will be used to recruit volunteers and develop risk management strategies.
Anderson said the conference discussed the plan formulated by NRL Head of Game Strategy and Development, Shane Richardson, which is still to be formally released.
"They told us that on the subject of revenue, the TV deal is just the tip of the iceberg," he said.
"These blokes reckon there's huge money to be made with merchandise and other business ventures but until the strategic plan is released we're all pretty much in the dark."
However, revolutionary changes are on the way
in player welfare, particularly in the the way agents and "talent scouts" have been able to operate in the past.
There has for long time been dismay at the way young country players are recruited to city clubs with big promises, only to be discarded when they don't make the very short list of those who eventually get contracts.
"We were told stories of kids breaking down because they thought they were failures and while we've known this has been happening for a long time, this is the first time hard decisions have been made.
"No NRL club will be able to approach a kid under the age of 18 years.
"Blokes who call themselves scouts for city clubs without accreditation are going to be banned
and contracts will be watertight to stop mistreatment.
"All the time we hear of agents making kids sign deals for as little as $100 - sometimes with undue pressure from parents trying to live out their dreams through the kids - and this has got to stop.
"It's doing too much damage."
There's also a plan to create bush competitions along the lines of SG Ball, Jersey Flegg and Harold Matthews Shield in country areas so that players no longer need to move away from home to play top level league.