NRRRL tread hard road to form a 12-team comp
PLANS are well underway to return Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League to a 12-team competition in 2015, but don't expect it to be easy.
The next phase of Country Rugby League's boundary restructure is supposed to see both Cudgen Hornets and Bilambil Jets return to the Northern Rivers competition.
The restructure is based on the State border becoming the rigid border for rugby league competition, which would stop NSW-based clubs competing in Queensland competitions.
Grafton Ghosts and South Grafton Rebels became the first teams to be impacted by the change, which resulted in both clubs relocation to Group 2.
Both clubs have earned instant success, with the Ghosts to feature in the first and reserve grade finals next week with the Rebels set to play in the under-18s decider against Sawtell.
Now the NRRRL's sights are set on Cudgen and Bilambil, though only one side is open to change.
Cudgen football manager Graham Laurence said his club were once strongly opposed to any move, but the Hornets were now open to discussion.
"I don't believe it's a good thing to chop and change, but we've had a few discussions," Laurence said.
"There has been no decision so far.
"I advised the Gold Coast executive there had been some movement, but as far as they're concerned, there is no change in 2015.
"There's definitely a possibility it could happen."
Cudgen left the NRRRL at the end of 2011, and have had varied success since they joined the Bycroft Cup.
Their A-grade side currently sits last on the table with only one win, while reserve grade and Under-19s are mid-table.
As much as Cudgen remain a possibility to join the NRRRL, the Jets seem to be next to no chance of moving.
Laurence said his rival club were "120 per cent against moving", and that sentiment was echoed by Bilambil president Peter Rigney.
Rigney admitted the NRRRL was a much better-run competition now than in the past, but there was little else positive he had to say about the comp.
"We've got a full-time CEO running things up here and the standard of football is different," Rigney said.
"The standard of the refs is much better up here and our supporters won't travel.
"There are lots of little things like that."
One of the biggest selling points for the Ghosts and Rebels' move south was the highly reduced travel.
Should both clubs return to the NRRRL, the longest road trip would become about 175km one way.
With the Jets' longest trip currently an easy 53km to Runaway Bay, it is hard to sell a move to the NRRRL as a positive one to the club.
Rigney suggested the border move the other way, which would see Murwillumbah and Mullumbimby move north, but that is not currently on the agenda.
Country Rugby League regional area manager Kevin Hill said Cudgen made the initial request to NRRRL to move back.
Hill said as far as the CRL was concerned they were given 12 months to prepare when the Grafton clubs moved to Group 2.