Ju­nior game gets over­haul

Pilbara News - - Sport - Tom Zaun­mayr

Ju­nior league teams in the City of Kar­ratha will unite un­der one ban­ner for the 2017 sea­son in a move NRL WA hopes will boost par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Pil­bara Rugby League.

The Pil­bara has hosted one of the most suc­cess­ful league com­pe­ti­tions in re­gional WA, but has strug­gled to at­tract and re­tain play­ers in the past two years be­cause of the eco­nomic down­turn and rugby’s per­ceived phys­i­cal na­ture.

NRL WA op­er­a­tions man­ager Tony Crowe said ju­nior league games did not in­volve heavy tack­ling, with the fo­cus in­stead be­ing on time with ball in hand.

“Most im­por­tantly, next year with the changes, it’s more about the kids hav­ing more game time on the field,” he said.

“We’re short­en­ing the num­ber of teams, num­ber of play­ers per team and size of the field, so the game is go­ing to be a lot more in­ter­ac­tive.

“The kids won’t have a big space to cover and they are go­ing to get ball in hand more of­ten, which is the crit­i­cal part.”

Crowe said travel to Hed­land would be re­duced to en­cour­age a more “lo­calised” game.

NRL games de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Mitchell Kurtz said with a bet­ter struc­ture in place and more ed­u­ca­tion for par­ents, 2017 was look­ing bright for the PRL.

“This is about get­ting out there and just play­ing with mates, learn­ing dif­fer­ent skill sets and get­ting ball in hand,” he said.

“We live in a small town; if I was a kid growing up here, I would want to play as much sport as I could. There is noth­ing bet­ter than real life, so there’s no rea­son why you would want to sit in­side.”

Kurt said the league would look to boost in­dige­nous in­volve­ment in the game in 2017.

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