The Canberra Raiders want to increase their number of development officers from one to six within two years as the war against the AFL intensifies.
The Raiders yesterday appointed Adam Kyle to head their high school development, complementing existing officer Daniel York who focuses mainly on primary school talent.
AFL newcomers GWS Giants have committed to playing games at Manuka Oval for the next 10 years, while also staging junior clinics and nurturing the next generation of footballers through their Canberra-based academy.
The Raiders are desperate to have more troops on the ground so they can tackle the competition head-on.
Last month, the club fumed when Wagga council signed a three-year $300,000 deal to host pre-season games and community camps.?
Raiders boss Don Furner is hopeful once the NRL broadcasting rights deal is completed, they will be given a fighting chance to compete against the AFL's impressive development base.
"We keep pushing the point and saying we have to have more than one [development officer]," Furner said.
"Thankfully the Country Rugby League and the NRL have granted this request, and certainly next year we'll be pushing for four and six the year after .
"When we cover Goulburn and Cooma and Queanbeyan and all those regions, there's a lot of schools we don't get to."
Kyle is well versed at locking horns with rival codes after singing the league gospel in soccer-mad London in recent years.
Originally from Canberra, Kyle was the regional development officer in the English capital, and was also an assistant coach for the London Broncos' under-20s side.
"It's quite challenging promoting rugby league in a city that's dominated by another sport, and that experience will be beneficial heading into this role," Kyle said.
"Hopefully we can establish some interschool competitions between the regions and try to get the kids funnelling into here."
CRL coaching and development manager Mick Dabin said they are relishing the challenge of trying to fend off the threat posed by the Giants. "If nothing else, GWS has been a wake-up for rugby league that we have to be a lot more unified in our approach," Dabin said.
CRL Bidgee regional development manager Adam Perry, a former Canterbury hooker, said the game needs to be proactive to retain its dominance in the region. "I think we've always had that connection with the Raiders," Perry said.
"When I made rep teams and was looking to come to an NRL club, I wanted to come to Canberra because it was so close to home.?"