STATE BID FOR BEARS: BRL looking into it
LEAGUE: Bundaberg's success at the upcoming 47th Battalion in Murgon could be the start of their return to state competition.
The NewsMail can reveal the Bundaberg Rugby League will aim to put a side in next year's statewide Hastings Deering Colts under-20 competition if the Bears perform well in the age group in the 47th Battalion.
It is one reason why Bundy has opted to only enter an under-20 side instead of both an under-18 and under-20 side, with under-18 players used in the team.
If the BRL were to enter the Colts competition, it would follow in the footsteps of the Western Mustangs from Toowoomba.
The team would include players from Bundaberg and the Fraser Coast.
The Mustangs currently play in the competition, as well as in the under-18 Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup, providing a pathway for juniors who don't have an Intrust Super Cup team in the region.
It is hoped the Toowoomba region will one day have an Intrust Super Cup side.
Bundaberg and Wide Bay have a similar problem with no state team representation since the Grizzlies played in the Cup from 1996 to 1998.
"We've spoken about it, entering a under-20 team," BRL chairman Mike Ireland said.
"If (the 47th Battalion team) perform well this year, then we'll seriously consider putting the work in place to play in the statewide competition.
"It's a good chance for us to see if we can be competitive."
Bundaberg in recent years have done well, winning the plate for defeated teams last year and taking out the whole competition in 2017.
Players from both teams have gone on to play in the Intrust Super Cup and for other teams in the Colts competition.
Others have dominated in the Bundaberg Rugby League A-grade competition.
Ireland said it was important a pathway was created for current and future juniors to play in Bundaberg.
He said the board had made sure it had done due diligence before applying to return to statewide competition.
The last time Bundaberg had a state side the BRL almost went bust.
"It's little steps at a time," Ireland said.
"We almost went broke last time it happened, so we're trying to do things right.
"But we want a competitive, high standard of football for our juniors to play."
Ireland said it would help the BRL as well by strengthening the league and allowing juniors to stay and play rather than go away to other areas.
The NewsMail contacted Queensland Rugby League Central Region manager Rob Crow who said no official discussion had been had yet.
He revealed that Bundaberg wouldn't need to pay to play in the competition as the QRL would pay.
But Bundaberg being in the competition would potentially increase costs for the QRL. So everything would need to balance out for Bundy to return.
"We'd need to do our due diligence," Crow said.
"They need to stand up on their two feet.
"The players in Bundaberg are currently involved in the Central Queensland Capras system and that is working well.
"So it would need to be viable to all."
But Crow said he would support Bundaberg if the BRL pushed ahead.
"There's always been a number of talented players from the region," he said.
"We're always pushing to find better pathways to get players to the top."
Crow said any decision would have to be made by competition organisers in Brisbane.
The Bears play in the 47th Battalion on June29 and 30.