THEY were the Phil Gould tweets that fired up Ipswich Jets and Western Corridor NRL bid chairman Steve Johnson like no others.
Leading commentator Gould posted on Friday that “Q Cup and NSW Cup comps should be third-tier, semi-pro comps” after earlier tweeting that “we should not get rid of NYC. We just need to reposition it in the development pathway. Reserve grade is priority.”
Johnson sent an angry text to the QT not long afterwards and we caught up with him at Davies Park on Sunday while watching the Jets v Magpies clash where he reiterated the content of his text.
“Phil Gould is proposing that we bring back a national reserve grade competition which is quite a surprise given there have been a lot of comments out of Sydney to say that there is not enough talent in rugby league to support an expanded competition with two extra teams.
“We’ve always said that view is a nonsense. But if you bring back a reserve grade you will have to find 400 extra players.
“Phil’s idea is that the Intrust Super Cup would go back to a third tier competition, but remain semi-professional, but in Queensland we’ve spent decades developing the second-best rugby league competition in Australia.
“To relegate that back to third or fourth tier would be a disaster for rugby league, with the NSW and Queensland cups proving the most immediate pathway for players into the NRL.
“So why would you tamper with something that has helped create an amazing game, and bring back something we got rid of more than 20 years ago?”
Johnson said the only way a reserve grade competition across the 16 NRL clubs could be sustained would be “to raid Queensland”.
“NSW just doesn’t have enough talent,” he said.
“They are already pulling players out of Queensland now to support their competitions. But what we are trying to stop in rugby league is players moving away from home at too young an age.
“So a reserve grade competition, with an NYC competition along with it, would mean more players from the bush in NSW and Queensland having to relocate to Sydney and that is not a step we should take when we are talking about pathway programs.”
Johnson had earlier texted the QT that “Gus (Gould) wants to keep an NYC competition that has proven to…fail development. Gus and his Sydney-centric cohorts clamour lack of talent for expansion but he thinks we have enough talent for an extra grade!!!”