THE MID North Coast could have a team in the second-tier NSW Cup competition as soon as 2020 if Port Macquarie Sharks president Jamie Dowse has his way.
National Rugby League chief executive Todd Greenberg has already ruled out expansion into the top flight in the near future.
With the second-tier competition a more realistic goal, Dowse wants to know what the Mid North Coast can do.
“We all talk about pathways, but how good would it be to have a side playing in the NSW Cup,” he said.
“Having a Mid North Coast team in the NSW Cup would create a sense of pride for the community because they’ll have a team in the second-tier competition below the NRL.”
Dowse has some experience after spending years in Queensland with the Queensland Cup system.
“Places like Rockhampton, Townsville and Burleigh are thriving because they have their own teams in the Queensland Cup,” he said.
Under the concept, a 30-man playing squad would be drawn from a region covering Grafton to Forster and as a result, competitions such as Group 3 and Group 2 would be strengthened.
Having a Mid North Coast team in the NSW Cup would create a sense of pride for the community because they’ll have a team in the second-tier competition below the NRL.Port Macquarie Sharks president Jamie Dowse
“People say the local leagues would suffer, but I don’t see how that would be the case,” Dowse said.
“Take a player like Mitch Wilbow from the Sharks for example; he’d train with the NSW Cup side.
“If he’s not picked for the weekend, he then goes back and plays for his junior club in his local competition.
“Group 3 or Group 2 are then strengthened because of what he brings back.”
Dowse said a Mid North Coast side would affiliate themselves with a National Rugby League club and while Newcastle would be the logical choice, they have the Newcastle Rugby League to draw from.
“This is a great catchment area when we have the airport and a direct link to Sydney or Melbourne,” he said.
“If you look at the current NSW Cup setup, it’s all Sydney-centric.
“Mounties are aligned with Canberra and Wyong look like they’re going to pull out of supporting the Roosters.”
It just needs someone to drive it; whether that’s me or someone else.Jamie Dowse
Papua New Guinea’s admission into the Queensland Cup competition has been a success and there are calls for Fiji to join the NSW Cup.
“It just needs someone to drive it; whether that’s me or someone else,” Dowse said.
“The first thing we need to do is go straight to the top and see what boxes need ticking.
“PNG has gone crazy after being included in the Queensland Cup; Fiji will be the same in the NSW Cup,” Dowse said.
“We could be the same here.”
Dowse said developing pathways from junior level to a second-tier competition would benefit local players.