February 26, 2021
Under 20 rugby league gives youngsters chance to grow
The league stars of tomorrow will get the chance to show their talent in a new five-week round robin competition for under-20s starting this weekend.
Motu Tony, the football high performance manager for New Zealand Rugby League, says the net has been cast wide, with the National 20s including Northland, two Auckland teams, Waikato-Bay of Plenty, Central Districts including Taranaki and the South Island.
He says the existing tournament structure goes up to 18-year olds, and many players have left the sport or felt they had to move to Australia to get a chance of being picked up by an NRL club.
"NRL players, the average debutante age is clubs outside the top four and for top four clubs it is a little older, 23, so we felt we needed to bridge that gap and take that pressure away from our young players and say at 18 you are still learning the game, and we will give you an opportunity to just keep working on your game so you don't feel you have to drop out or you haven't made it,' he says.
Another opportunity for young players will come next year when New Zealand Rugby league starts a team in the S. G. Ball Cup across the Tasman.
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