CENTRAL Coast clubs Wyong and The Entrance are poised to join Newcastle Rugby League next year in an expanded 10-team competition while grand final winners will now progress to a new-look President's Cup series.
The proposal, outlined by NSW Rugby League in an email obtained by the Newcastle Herald, was confirmed by Newcastle RL chief executive officier Matt Harris on Thursday.
It means the Roos and Tigers play alongside the eight existing clubs in first grade from 2021 with a home-and-away season of 18 rounds, kicking off prior to Easter on March 27-28.
The top five sides then contest four weeks of finals, culminating in a decider on the first weekend in September.
President's Cup, played as a statewide competition in 2020 on the back of the coronavirus crisis, continues but in a conference-style format featuring major premiers from Newcastle (northern), Illawarra (southern), Sydney-based Ron Massey Cup (central) and a yet-to-be-determined wildcard entry.
Newcastle and Illawarra will likely host both knockout fixtures with victors advancing to play for a state title on NSWRL grand final day, scheduled for Bankwest Stadium on the last weekend in September.
"It will be a long season for a team that plays the final but the incentive will be to test themselves against the other winning teams, plus play at Bankwest Stadium," Harris said about the President's Cup concept.
"They [NSWRL] have included a week off after our grand final, which is a good idea and allows the winning team to celebrate and then prepare for the President's Cup."
Harris said the Newcastle RL board "support" and clubs "are on board" with the inclusion of Wyong, who returned in a last-minute switch this year following an initial stint between 2003 and 2012, and newcomers The Entrance.
He believes the Central Coast outfits are in the process of giving the move a "rubber stamp".
The main draw is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
Wyong and The Entrance won't field any lower grade teams.
Newcastle RL match day will now include firsts, reserves and under 19s.
Men's open grade, women's tag and women's tackle are all optional.
They will run in combination with current Newcastle Hunter Community Rugby League competitions.
Meanwhile, the Newcastle RL board of directors were re-elected unopposed and will continue for another two-year term after Tuesday night's annual general meeting.
Newcastle RL recorded a turnaround of $229,691 in the year ending September 30, having finished the 2020 period with a profit of $92,900 following a loss of $136,791 from 12 months earlier.
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