Help keep the next Alfie in Ipswich
WHEN the Ipswich Jets unearth "the next Allan Langer" it is hoped he will have a Western Corridor NRL side to play for.
Bid chairman Steve Johnson told the QT one of the key reasons the pursuit of a local NRL side came about was that the juniors in the Western Corridor area were not being catered for.
Langer played juniors for Norths Tigers and seniors with the Ipswich Jets, before moving to the Broncos.
But Steve Walters, who played his juniors with Booval Swifts, had to move to Canberra to get a start.
Johnson said expansion was needed in the region due to the fact that 11 of the NRL clubs were based in NSW or the ACT, compared to just three in Queensland.
"Our concern is there are not enough clubs in Queensland for 45% of the game's players," Johnson said.
"It is not about expanding the game at the cost to other clubs. It is about expanding the game for 45% of other players who are at present totally unrepresented.
"When the NRL distributes funds Queensland is getting 3/14 of the funding and NSW and the ACT is getting 11/14.
"How is that fair to the 45% of the game's players that come from Queensland?
"We are simply saying there are not enough clubs in Queensland
"The junior base in the Western Corridor is the largest in Australia. When we last measured the figures we had 10,500 juniors."
The Jets have launched a program called 'Project Alf', designed to enhance junior development but with the ultimate goal of unearthing the next Langer.
But with only three clubs in Queensland the chances are a player of that calibre would need to move states to get a gig.
"Our bid came about because of the biggest junior base in rugby league being cared for by the two poorest clubs - Ipswich and Souths-Logan - in the Intrust Super Cup," Johnson said.
"It was hard for us watching our kids at 6 o'clock in the morning at the bus and train stations with their jackets on going to the Gold Coast for the day to the schools of excellence or fly out to Sydney to play 16s.
"We understand players need to relocate to Sydney, but we want to give them the opportunity to go when they are men."