LAST TIME: Tim Wyvill in action for Gympie last time they competed in the Rugby League Sunshine Coast top flight in 2016.
LAST TIME: Tim Wyvill in action for Gympie last time they competed in the Rugby League Sunshine Coast top flight in 2016. Greg Miller

Local league season confirmed, with eight teams, 21 rounds

RUGBY LEAGUE: An expanded eight-team division one competition is set to kick-off on March 10, after Rugby League Sunshine Coast completed a draft schedule on Friday night.

As expected, Beerwah will re-join the region's top flight after five years in lower grades while Gympie will also be welcomed back after a disjointed four years.

They join reigning premier Noosa, Maroochydore, Kawana, Caboolture, Caloundra and Nambour in the main competition, which will be contested over 21 rounds with four-team finals.

"It's great for the local league to get back to the eight teams," RLSC CEO James Ward said.

"I think it shows there's growth going on.

"We know there's growth by (player) numbers (at a local level) but there's growth in commitment levels, with more players wanting to get back in and play in division one."

"I think its a step in the right direction. We've just got to work towards making it sustainable. That will be the job ahead now."

When asked if the Bulldogs and Devils would be competitive, Ward was uncertain.

"It's a bit early to say. We've got to reserve judgment until we see how they progress through the season."

"It's unknown to some degree but the league has confidence to accept the nominations and will work with the clubs to get back to where they need to be.

"I don't think any club knows where they're at until they start playing."

Beerwah dropped out of the top flight at the end of 2012, when it struggled to field a competitive team but has since established itself as a force in lower grades.

Meanwhile, Gympie's experienced a roller-coaster ride.

Former contenders, they suddenly struggled to have a competitive line-up so formed a joint venture outfit with Noosa, the Northern Outlaws, for 2014 and 2015.

They returned to action in their own right in 2016 but battled and did not field a side in division one last year.

Noosa has also laboured to field a competitive team in recent seasons but they were propped up by state league fringe players from the Sunshine Coast Falcons last season.

With 21 rounds, Ward said "it's a long season" so the depth of club rosters will be tested.

He also said a four-team finals would be a fair format.

"If you win a competition, you'd want to be finishing in the top half of the comp (in the regular season)," he said.

Last year's six-team competition had four teams in finals.

Round one fixtures

March 10: Maroochydore v Kawana, Beerwah v Caboolture, Caloundra v Gympie

March 11: Nambour v Noosa

Times to be confirmed



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