Northern Rivers AFL clubs to join larger Queensland comp
AUSSIE RULES: The four Northern Rivers clubs that compete under the banner of AFL Queensland will join their Gold Coast counterparts from next season.
AFLQ announced on Wednesday that a revamp of the current structure has been conducted, with the Division One Hart Sport Cup now being underpinned by Division Two North and Division Two South.
Division Two South is where the four Northern Rivers clubs - Tweed Coast Tigers, Byron Bay Magpies, Ballina Bombers and Lismore Swans - will play unless any of them request to play in the first division.
No clubs have been formally allocated the competitions they will play in next year, but sides in the Hart Sport Cup will be given the first opportunity to retain their position in the top flight.
Byron Bay magpies coach Brett Porter said he was pleased the four clubs in the Northern Rivers would be able to tackle new challenges from next season.
The Magpies are defending premiers and are currently undefeated in 2019, so the prospect of playing in a bigger competition with different clubs is exciting for the Byron boss.
"The four-club model we have is unsustainable and I think we have all become a bit sick of playing each other,” Porter said.
"We have all grown over the last five years. The level of play is now at a point we need to be a part of a new competition.
"We all need new challenges so this is going to lift us.”
Porter said having stronger links to the clubs north of the border would also benefit the junior ranks.
He also said the Northern NSW towns should benefit from an influx of players and supporters coming to the region and putting money into local economies.
"This will be great exposure for junior participation and a greater pathway for people to come through the system,” Porter said.
"I think it is good for our towns as well, to just get a bit more tourism down here and we will be able to play at different grounds.”