Toyota Cup to blood next group of Joeys - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Toyota Cup to blood next group of Joeys

By Adrian Warren 12/04/2007 07:51:59 PM Comments (0)

In the week in which rugby league lost its brightest star, NRL boss David Gallop believes the new national youth competition starting next year will potentially produce a new generation of heroes for his code.

The NRL launched the 2008 Toyota Cup in which all 16 clubs will participate, giving the competition a uniform curtain raiser.

Each club will have a roster of 20 players aged between 17 and 19.

Gallop said the new competition highlighted the unique thing about rugby league compared to other codes like AFL, which employed a draft system.

"This will really turn local kids into local heroes and it's probably an opportune time to talk about that in a week when Andrew Johns has retired," Gallop said on Thursday.

"The kid from Cessnock became a hero of Newcastle and a competition like this will definitely see us produce more and more local kids who go on to become the hero of their town."

While there was nothing to stop clubs from using players younger than 17, Gallop said in reality the clubs were looking at players from 17 to 19.

"There was a fair bit of debate about that, we were very much guided by the clubs' views on getting a compromise, it was felt that under 20s was the appropriate cut off point," Gallop said.

"Beyond that there will still be opportunities for the so-called late developers."

Gallop was referring to the existing Premier League competition which would continue to act as a pathway for players aged over 20 to the NRL, though their matches would not necessarily be played on the same day and ground as the NRL fixtures.

He said there was nothing to stop clubs from promoting teenagers to first grade, as it already happened this year.

"We looked at the idea of possibly holding players back, but the reality is if guys are ready to play first grade, then the view of the clubs is they shouldn't be held back," said Gallop.

The new competition will have mandated training sessions to enable players to pursue off field education and traineeships.

To that end, team training will be excluded during business hours on three working days every week, probably Tuesday to Thursday.

A salary cap will be put in place for the new competition, though no total has yet been finalised.

While there is no maximum limit a Toyota Cup player could be paid, competition manager Michael Buettner said an individual could be added to the senior salary cap of his club if he earned more than the $55,000 minimum allowed under the NRL system.

"In terms of coming up with a salary cap, we've been very mindful of what impact it would have on the NRL salary cap and also what impact it would have on the NRL clubs in terms of recruitment," Buettner said.

"Some clubs don't have the local juniors of a Parramatta or a Penrith, so we had to be mindful of that and put in other allowances, such as a living away from home allowance."

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