Newcastle Rugby League: CEO Matt Harris defends overhaul of player points system for next season despite closeness of competition

NEW SYSTEM: Points allocation for former NRL players, like Maitland's Dane Tilse, will change next season. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
NEW SYSTEM: Points allocation for former NRL players, like Maitland's Dane Tilse, will change next season. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Newcastle Rugby League chief executive officer Matt Harris has defended an overhaul of the competition’s player points system for 2019 despite this year’s first grade results being the closest in recent memory.   

The top five teams are separated by just two competition points and seven sides can still make next month’s finals with three regular rounds remaining, but Harris said the “flaws” in the existing system had to be addressed eventually and work was already happening before knowing the context of this season’s standings.

The new player points system was approved this week by now governing body NSW Rugby League, who recommended the change to predominately align with the same process used for Sydney-based Ron Massey Cup.

Newcastle RL have been in consultation with the eight district clubs over the last few months and the proposal will be implemented in time for round one next year.

“We started working on this before the competition even started,” Harris said.

“Even if we knew how even it would turn out to be, we’d already identified major flaws in the current player points system.

“You can’t just sit back and wait for that [results], otherwise it might not work as well next time.”

Harris said the main point of conjecture with clubs has been a “significant” shift in the points allocation for local juniors, who are no longer automatically classed as zero, and the grading of higher-level representatives, now based on the previous five rather than two years.

He said the adjustments in the almost decade-long system promote clubs to “develop their own players” as well as assisting “talent equalisation across our teams”.

A year-long club cap, one difference allowed by NSWRL, still remains but has been reduced to 130 points from the current 650-to-850 range based on ladder rankings from the season prior.

Individual points have been graded accordingly, between zero and 20, but each player in all grades is now “worth something” in the system and first grade can only use a maximum of 100 points on any game day.

Harris said recent trials with current rosters showed clubs would be under.

This weekend Maitland host Wests, Kurri are away to Macquarie, Lakes travel to meet Central and Souths are at home to Cessnock.