Bengalla Hunter Valley Group 21 Rugby League confident of fielding six-team first grade competition in 2020

IT'S not often all Bengalla Hunter Valley Group 21 Rugby League clubs see eye-to-eye.

However, on this occasion, everyone is in agreement that a six-team first grade competition must take the field in 2020.

A couple of setbacks, such as the late withdrawals of the Muswellbrook Rams and Greta Branxton Colts, meant only four sides vied for the main premiership this year.

And, it's a scenario no one wants repeated.

So, to discuss the options moving forward, CRL operations manager Bert Lowrie, Greater Northern Region manager Scott Bone and Group 21 officials met with representatives from all eight organisations - Aberdeen Tigers, Denman Devils, Merriwa Magpies, Murrurundi Mavericks, Scone Thoroughbreds, Singleton Greyhounds, the Rams and Colts - at the Muswellbrook RSL Club on Tuesday night.

The open forum allowed each club to not only air its concerns, but provide a few solutions to benefit the code.

A number of pros were listed, including strong sponsorship; participation numbers (especially in reserves and league tag); financial viability; Where There's a Will round; and women's tackle format; while the cons consisted of shift and work commitments; lack of voluntary numbers; junior rep pathways; player movement; an uneven draw; competition structure and the costs associated to put a player on the park.

"It was great to witness the turnout; everyone was there to talk about what's best for the group," Bone said.

"Let's be honest, the past season wasn't ideal, with just four teams.

"While we want next year to be successful, we also need to look at the bigger picture.

"One of the main positives centred on six sides contesting the top division [in 2020].

"Aberdeen, Denman, Greta Branxton, Muswellbrook, Scone and Singleton indicated they were confident that would happen.

"All of them, bar the Thoroughbreds, have appointed their coaches.

"I think it was Daniel Hoogerwerf (Tigers) who said anything less than that number [six] is a waste of time.

"And, that's true.

"Maybe we need to implement a point system; however it's a conversation for further down the track.

"At least they're starting to look at the long-term feasibility of Group 21."