As the NSWRL shelved most of its leading competitions as a result of Covid gripping the state, many of its star players have been forced to sit and twiddle their thumbs due to a lack of playing time.
Ever the innovator, Phil Gould believes he has the solution to help the youngsters get some game time, and also get national exposure.
So, what exactly has Gould suggested?
“I actually put a proposal to Andrew Abdo and Peter V’landys yesterday about a summer competition – a combined second-tier under-20s, under-21s type competition – through November, December and maybe a little bit into January where we play six or eight games,” Gould told Wide World of Sports.
“Have a combined Jersey Flegg-NSW Cup for players who haven’t played a lot of football. Even for injured NRL stars who haven’t had a lot of football this year might like to play a couple of games as well.
Gould has had positive conversations with leading NRL figures about a possible summer competition. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
“We could run a competition for them in those months. It gives an incentive for those fellas who haven’t been training to keep training and prepare themselves for a November competition.
“The sense is footballers haven’t had a lot of football, even at an NRL level. To give them a chance to go back and play some football and then have a couple of weeks off and still have six weeks of training …
“I’ve got to say I got a really good reception to it from Peter and Andrew.
“It’s in its infancy, and it’s something they will discuss as to whether they do something official.”
There hasn’t been an NRL competition for the under-20s age group since the Holden Cup ceased in 2017, after nine years of activity.
The competition brought through plenty of the stars of the game today. One only has to look at the Holden Cup’s player of the year roll call to see the quality of players it has produced. Ben Hunt, Tariq Sims and Ash Taylor are just three names of many that lit up the competition while it was active.
A baby-faced Ben Hunt was player of the year in the first season of the Holden Cup. (Pics Adam Head)Source:News Limited
Gould’s plans for the summer competition will need further backing and nuanced details before it gets off the ground, but with the amount of talent unable to get much game time this NRL season, it represents a fantastic opportunity for players to make a name for themselves.
“Whether it’s official or unofficial, I think we’ll see some lower-grade football leading into Christmas and maybe even January as part of the preparations for next season and part of the development process,” Gould said.
“That’s really important if we can get a night-time competition up of about 10 weeks, I think it would be terrific.
“If you combine that with a women’s competition, as a curtain-raiser for those, it gives the girls a chance to play too because they have missed out on all of their football.
“If you package it together it could be something a broadcaster could look at, there would certainly be some streaming, I’d imagine, during that time.”
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