Conference call by NRRRL

THE Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition will be divided into north and south conferences and reduced to 12 teams next year.

There will be six teams in each conference with 16 rounds in all.

After five rounds, six games will be played in cross-over rounds followed by a further five conference rounds.

The decision came at the NRRRL annual general meeting on Monday night, where president Brian Rix was re-elected for a second term.

"We're still one competition with 12 teams and this will reduce travel for teams on the edges," Rix said.

"A couple of teams have left, but we believe we'll be a stronger unit in 2012.

"The draw has been well received by the clubs, so that's a good start."

As reported in The Northern Star, Cudgen and Tweed Coast have returned to the Gold Coast competition.

The northern conference will comprise Murwillumbah, Mullumbimby, Byron Bay, Ballina, Northern United and Marist Brothers.

The southern conference will be made up of Casino, Kyogle, Evans Head, Lower Clarence, Grafton Ghosts and Grafton Rhinos.

Rix is also confident the NRRRL can renew player interest in representative rugby league.

"A big goal is to improve the Northern Rivers representative team and make it something blokes want to be a part of," he said.

"We're chasing some high-profile coaches from outside the area to help out.

"NovaSkill has come on board again and we're looking to organise a pre-season competition over one weekend.

"We've welcomed some new board members and we'll look to work more closely with clubs next season to satisfy their needs."

After 35 years on the Group One and NRRRL management committees, Doug Harrison has stepped down as secretary and has been replaced by Brad Birney of Casino.

Harrison will concentrate on his duties as Country Rugby League vice-president.

Tony Durheim is the NRRRL vice-president and Garry Williams the treasurer, with others on the management committee being Ray Fairweather, Nigel Lofts and Grantley Creighton.

Meanwhile, Northern United has lost two of its best forwards with lock Grant Brown and second-rower Jerry Byres set to join Lower Clarence next year.

Brown will captain-coach the club he helped win the 2009 grand final when he kicked the winning field goal in a 21-20 victory over United.

The fiery lock joined the Dirawongs in 2010 and spent two seasons at the club.

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