South Sydney Roosters could be reality in 2020

A proposal from NRL coaches to play reserve grade trial matches this season remains an option according to head of football Graham Annesley.

The idea of running second-tier games was first floated at a coaches' association meeting in May following the cancellation of the Canterbury Cup competition for 2020.

Arch-rival clubs like the Roosters and South Sydney were set to combine in east and west divisions for trials consisting of four teams that would allow fringe players to keep fit.

Coaches would pick their 21-man squads each Tuesday for weekend games then, players who miss out, would be placed in a pool for the trial games.

Assistant coaches around the clubs would oversee the teams.


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Annesley told The Daily Telegraph that the format, including potential venues used for second-tier trials will be considered in the coming weeks.

"It (the proposal) hasn't been a priority because of the focus on restarting the NRL competition, but I have had some discussions with the coaches' association," Annesley said.

"Those conversations have only happened in the last day.

"It hasn't progressed any further, but we will have a look at it and see what is feasible or not.

"It is under consideration, but there has been no decision at this point."

The NSWRL haven't received any correspondence on the second-tier trial idea to even take it to the board to consider.

The Raiders feel for those players battling for their shot. Photo: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
The Raiders feel for those players battling for their shot. Photo: AAP Image/Lukas Coch


It comes on a day when the NSWRL confirmed that community football for children in competitions up to and including under 18 comps will resume in July.

The NSWRL has been working towards a restart of modified and select competitions from 18 July and a return to full contact training from 1 July, based on the advice of government and health authorities.

Unfortunately, a large contingent of reserve grade and junior representative players in the 20s, 18s and 16s won't play any football for the remainder of 2020.

Players included in the 32-man NRL bubbles can compete in scrimmages, but the other fringe footballers will be forced to maintain their fitness at home until the competition returns next year.

Canberra recruitment manager Peter Mulholland feels for the cast of second-tier players being left on the scrapheap.

"The other players outside the bubbles are in limbo for a season," Mulholland said.

"It will fix itself up next year. We will need a reserve grade competition again, but for now they just have to wait and train from home."


The Canterbury Cup also needs players. Photo: Michael Magee Photography.
The Canterbury Cup also needs players. Photo: Michael Magee Photography.


Mulholland likes the idea of second-tier trials, but the concept is difficult to include all the Canterbury Cup players under the current coronavirus restrictions.

"It is just too hard when you have 32 players in a bubble, you still need other players to come in to make up a Canterbury Cup team," he said.

"That is why the clubs said it was too hard to have a reserve grade competition because you are going to break your isolation.

"The ideal thing would have been to keep the 20s competition going, but they didn't do that.

"But you can't do anything under the circumstances. It is bad and terrible, but it is the way it is unfortunately, and we just must abide by it."

Second-tier trials including players outside of the NRL bubbles could be played later this season when coronavirus restrictions are lifted, but Mulholland believes it would be too late.

"No, there is no point later in the year," he said.

"It is just going to be a strange year. The club that adapts to it the best is going to be that club that gets their players through.

"Some clubs will do a rotation, especially with their bench players and use some of the second-tier players in the bubble that way."



Originally published as South Sydney Roosters could be reality in 2020