NRL looks at linking country with

The National Rugby League is investigating linking its clubs to rural areas, giving them access to some of the best players from that area in return for development support.

The proposal was revealed during the two-day NRL conference in Sydney.

The concept would assign particular regional zones throughout the rural communities, giving them a responsibility to work with local leagues and governing bodies to promote the game in those areas. The clubs would have to meet standards of investment and support for the areas and in return would have first option on an agreed number of elite players from that area.

In return, a feeder system would encourage clubs to grade the cream of the talent from those areas and would stimulate a fan base for the clubs.

The NRL stressed that the proposal was very much in the early stages and would not be advanced without extensive consultation. It will hold further discussions with the ARL, NSWRL, CRL, QRL and RLPA regarding tied development areas.