THE red and white Gladiators colours could soon be worn by local players in a revolutionary NSW Cup competition.
THE red and white Gladiators colours could soon be worn by local players in a revolutionary NSW Cup competition. Leigh Jensen

Plans for a Coffs team in NRL revolution

A COFFS Harbour-based team could be playing in a National Rugby League- sanctioned competition as early as 2019.

The NRL's latest strategic plan, prepared by former Rabbitohs boss Shane Richardson, allows for a 14-team Platinum League with a mix of city and regional teams.

Group 2 chairman Warren Gilkinson sat beside Richardson at the Country Rugby League annual conference and said the names of three regional cities kept coming up.

"Coffs Harbour, Dubbo and Mudgee were the three places he kept saying were ideal for teams," Gilkinson said.

"We fit the bill because of the close proximity of the airport to C.ex Coffs International Stadium, along with the strong support for rugby league in the area."

Gilkinson said a proposal outlined in a city newspaper this week of New England- North Coast team was not accurate.

"It's to be city-based, and if Coffs is chosen like Richardson has indicated, the entire operation will be centred here and funded by the NRL.

"Players will live and train in Coffs and you won't find blokes coming in for the day from Lismore or Tamworth like you might find under the rep system at the moment."

The strategy will see the NYC Under-20 Cup made redundant.

Seven city NRL Cup teams will be developed and the seven left over will be linked with, and based, in regional centres.

"Say, for instance, Wentworthville is allocated to the Coffs Coast Gladiators ... their best players would go to the bush to form a team with our best players," Gilkinson said.

"Now, don't tell me you wouldn't get lots of young blokes busting themselves to live and play footy in place like we've got, with the beaches, the university and so many other things to offer."

Gilkinson said no specific time frame was mentioned at the meeting but he received strong indications the NRL planned to have the new format up and running inside three years.



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