NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden has declared Rugby League in NSW to be in the strongest state it has been in recent history and is poised for another season of success at the launch of the 2020 NSWRL season today (Tuesday 3 March).
Trodden was joined at the launch at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence by Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler, Fiji icon Petero Civoniceva, Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Origin star Maddie Studdon, True Blues Nathan Hindmarsh, Steve Menzies, Craig Wing and Steve Roach, representatives of all 12 Canterbury Cup NSW teams and Junior Rugby League players.
The NSWRL will administer 13 competitions in 2020 including the state’s premier competition, the Canterbury Cup NSW, and four regional NSW representative competitions; Fijian team, the Kaiviti Silktails will join the Ron Massey Cup and the Central Coast Roosters will join the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership.
The Junior Representative competitions kicked off in February, the senior regional representative competitions will start this weekend (Saturday 7 March) while other competitions including the Canterbury Cup NSW will start on Saturday 14 March.
“The 2020 season is shaping up to be the biggest and the best in the recent history of the NSWRL,” Trodden said.
“The decision by the NSWRL and the Country Rugby League to come together will see Rugby League in NSW governed by a single body for the first time in 80 years.
“We are now ‘united as one’ and this move has allowed us to deliver a wide range of immediate and long-term benefits to participants.
“Our Junior Representatives program, which now includes regional NSW competitions the Laurie Daley Cup and Andrew Johns Cup, is already underway and has produced some fantastic results.
“There’s plenty of things to look forward to in our other competitions, including the addition of the Kaiviti Silktails from Fiji into the Ron Massey Cup. It’s a historic move and I would like to thank the NRL and DFAT PacificAus Sports for helping to make this happen.
“The NSWRL enjoyed one of the most successful seasons in history in 2019, with record television ratings for Canterbury Cup NSW and an increase in participation numbers for the second consecutive time in six years, and I’m confident we can build on that again this season.”
Fittler has always adopted a state-wide approach to the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues and said he always enjoyed watching the next generation of stars come through NSWRL competitions.
“The Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues has always been represented by players from regional NSW and metropolitan Sydney and it’s great to see all those NSWRL competitions fall under the one banner now,” Fittler said.
“I can’t wait for the season to start and I look forward to watching the skills on show from all the other competitions.”
The Silktails will join the Ron Massey Cup with their first game scheduled against Windsor Wolves at Churchill Park, Lautoka, on Saturday March 14. It is the first time a team from Fiji has played in a NSWRL competition.
Civoniceva, who had a distinguished Rugby League career representing Fiji, Australia and Queensland as well as winning three premierships with the Brisbane Broncos, played a pivotal role in pushing for the Silktails inclusion in the NSWRL.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for players in Fiji and provides them with a clear pathway to pursue a career as a Rugby League player,” Civoniceva said.
“We’ve got plenty of players who have great skills, they’ve been training hard and I believe they’ll give a good account of themselves in the Ron Massey Cup.”
The NSWRL will also introduce several rule changes into its major competitions this season to bring it in line with rule changes which were recently announced by the NRL.
These include 20/40 kicks (teams that kick within the 20m line and find touch past the opposition 40m line will restart play with a tap), mid-air tackles (illegal to tackle a player attempting to catch the ball until he lands) and scrum positions (the team with the feed can elect to move the scrum to 10m, 20m or restart).