Junior game gets overhaul

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Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
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NRL WA operations manager Tony Crowe with Pilbara Rugby League juniors Mali Hodzic, 9, and George Miller, 8.
Camera IconNRL WA operations manager Tony Crowe with Pilbara Rugby League juniors Mali Hodzic, 9, and George Miller, 8. Credit: 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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