Country in dark over new comission

COUNTRY-based supporters of the new Rugby League Independent Commission will need to place an enormous amount of trust in those eventually chosen to lead it.

Seeking exact information about what is looming as the biggest shake-up of the code since the Super League saga is akin to looking for the smallest needle in the biggest haystack.

Even those charged with running the game at the grassroots level admit to having no idea what the commission will deliver.

VB Gold Group 2 chairman Greg Mayhew freely admitted “a lot of faith” will need to be placed in those charged with shaping the game’s future.

“At last week’s Country Rugby League annual conference they brought along Geoff Carr from the ARL to make an address about what it will entail and I’ve got to be honest, I have no more idea now about the future direction than before he began speaking,” Mayhew said.

“We are being asked to trust those who are elected and I suppose we’ll all find out then what’s going to happen.

“Once they get elected, somebody will tell us what to do ... or at least that seems to be what Carr was trying to say.”

The Independent Commission will comprise 26 members; eight commissioners and one representative each from the NSWRL, the QRL and the 16 NRL clubs.

Interests of the CRL will, theoretically, be handled by the NSWRL.

During his address, Carr stressed the game in regional areas will continue to be run by a volunteer base, negating suggestions that the NSWRL, QRL and CRL structures will be dissolved.

“He placed a great deal of emphasis on the volunteers running the game,” Mayhew said. “In my opinion, if they don’t pay heed to people like us it will be the ruination of the game of rugby league.”

Newly-elected president of Group 2 Beautizone JRL, Mark Thomas, agreed with Mayhew’s sentiments but said guidelines detailing just what the grassroots consist of were a priority.

“Will the focus of the Independent Commission start with kids who are six ... or 16-years old?” he queried.

“And will they concentrate on recruiting from the schools or through the traditional junior league competition structure? I’m in total agreement with the idea of a commission but it concerns me there isn’t more information about what it will achieve out in the public arena. The more information available, the more you can work with and there just isn’t enough at present.”

While he’s been domiciled in Coffs Harbour for a number of years, Thomas has maintained strong contacts with the game in Queensland and questioned why there was so much opposition to the commission from that quarter in the early stages of discussions.

“The QRL dug their heels in and nothing could budge them,” he said.

“At no stage did they reveal exactly what it was that they were resisting, but it always made me feel something wasn’t quite right.

“It seems they are now okay with the idea, but I’d still like to know what it was they were objecting to ... and why.”

Meanwhile, Mayhew has given strong backing to former NSWRL executive director John Quayle, who is reported to be a leading contender to head up the commission.

“He’s been out of the game for a while, but when I met him in those days he was a great friend to country football,” Mayhew said. “John is a fair dinkum man and if his name came up for election, I’d certainly be one to back him.”

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