Compromise opens doorfor Swansea and Stockton

Greg Perrin with Swansea-Caves Beach players at Parbury Park on Friday March 13. Picture: Max Mason-HubersGAME ON: Gloves off as league clubs fight for right to play

STOCKTON and Swansea are free to play in the second division this season, but only once their Newcastle Rugby League affiliates have fielded four grades.

NRL chief executive officer Matt Harris met with his Country Rugby League counterpart Terry Quinn and operations manager Robert Lowrie on Wednesday to strike a compromise to end the impasse that threatened to prevent 50 footballers from playing rugby league this season.

The NRL originally blocked Stockton and Swansea’s re-entry into the second-tier Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League after the board voted to limit the inclusion of any new teams in that competition. That decision was made to safeguard the strength of the NRL’s open age competition that has been relaunched this season.

Stockton were a feeder club of Port Stephens Sharks, who have since folded due to a shortage of players. Stockton have become a South Newcastle affiliate.

Swansea are an affiliate of Lakes United.

Under the agreement between the NRL and CRL, Stockton and Swansea must register their players with their affiliate clubs and make the players available for selection if required.

If Stockton or Swansea players refuse to play in their affiliate’s open grade sides when required they could face fines, loss of competition points or suspensions.

It is understood that Souths and Lakes both have or are close to a full quota of players. ‘‘The option has been put in place so both Newcastle and Hunter sides can participate in the form they want to,’’ Harris said.

‘‘What it is also doing, as a priority, is we’re making sure the district clubs field all four sides.

‘‘That was endorsed as the main priority of Newcastle Rugby League – that we look after the clubs – and the CRL support the opinion we have.’’

Representatives from the NRL, CRL, Swansea, Stockton, Lakes and Souths are expected to meet in the next week to sign off on the arrangement.

Harris said Stockton had verbally accepted the new agreement.

Swansea secretary Greg Perrin said his committee were happy to support Lakes with players but wanted more information on the proposal before accepting it.

Swansea’s committee will discuss the proposal next Tuesday.

‘‘We support Lakes and there are players who are prepared to help them out if needed, but we just don’t know the finer details,’’ Perrin said.