The Group Four Rugby League offseason is not even two weeks old, but already the game is stealing the headlines.
Group Four announced a major change to its competition structure yesterday, just 10 days after Narrabri went down in first grade, reserve grade and under-18s on grand final day.
It did so in a bid to make rugby league in the region stronger, following a three-horse race in the top competition in 2017 which saw the Blues, North Tamworth Bears and Gunnedah Bulldogs decimate South West Robins, Collegian Warriors and Wee Waa Panthers.
In 2018 there will no longer be a first division and second division with separate grades in each, which was the format in 2017.
Instead, there will one Group Four competition with four grades.
There will be a 10-team first grade and a 10-team reserve grade.
The first grade competition will be named the ‘Cup’, while the reserve grade competition will be called the ‘Shield’.
Teams from both the first and second divisions in 2017 have combined to make that happen.
The first grade competition in 2018 will still include all six clubs which contested the top competition in 2017 - Narrabri, North Tamworth, Gunnedah, South West Robins, Wee Waa and Collegian.
A third Narrabri Shire team has been added to the mix.
In 2018 the Boggabri Kangaroos will challenge in first grade.
They have been joined by 2017 second division minor premiers Kootingal, as well as Werris Creek and Dungowan.
Surprisingly, premiers Bundarra nor second-placed Barraba or third-placed Bendemeer were promoted to first grade.