New chairman wants to take Canberra rugby league to 'the next level'

New Canberra Region Rugby League chairman Gary Green knows he has some "fairly big shoes to fill".

But Noel Bissett's replacement is ready to tackle the challenge head on as he sets his sights on growing rugby league pathways and expanding the game into new areas.

The CRRL has big plans in store for local rugby league. Photo: Jamila Toderas

The CRRL has big plans in store for local rugby league. Photo: Jamila Toderas

A talking point at the CRRL's annual general meeting was opening a pathway for disabled rugby league pathways, which has quickly become one of Green's major objectives.

"We’ve got a very strong league now, thanks to the work that Noel has put in, and now I hope with fresh eyes coming in we can take it to the next level," Green said.

"They have a [physical disability rugby league] program with Illawarra and Wests Tigers. We’re looking to get that off here.

"It’s going to involve people with disabilities coming into our game, not a full competition but to get people into the game to make it a family orientated game.

"We’re looking to grow our George Tooke Shield, and our major Canberra Raiders Cup. We’re looking at growth areas through Murrumbateman, Googong, and outlying areas."

Former judiciary member Green joins CRRL general manager Mark Vergano in a set-up determined to foster growth in a host of areas.

The CRRL is set to introduce an under 15 girls competition to allow players the chance to compete on a level playing field, with the existing under 17s league becoming an under 18s competition.

Players will then graduate into the women's Katrina Fanning Shield, giving the region a stronger platform from which the Canberra Raiders can eventually launch their own NRL Women's side.

The CRRL want to grow the women's game. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The CRRL want to grow the women's game. Photo: Rohan Thomson

"We’re on the cusp of something pretty special," Vergano said.

"It’s about consolidating the numbers, getting a very good competition, probably in some ways being the leader here, a hub.

"Bit by bit, as the Women’s NRL develops, obviously from our perspective we would love the Raiders to have a team, but we want a really good solid base from which to pick our players from."

The introduction of another junior girls competition has complemented a change in the junior boys and senior men's competition structures.

An under 17 boys league has been created within the junior structure, with the Canberra Raiders Cup under 18s and Youth League to both become under 19 competitions.

"We think giving them that an extra year at an age level will allow them to mature a little bit more," Vergano said.

"It might keep young men in the game longer. It makes the graduation to reserve grade easier, or first grade for the very talented ones. We're looking forward to giving them the opportunity to mature at their level."

Traditional Canberra Raiders Cup powerhouses "took a breather" this year as the Woden Valley Rams clinched a drought-breaking title, and Vergano expects the first grade competition could grow even tighter in 2019.

Goulburn have secured the services of NRL-capped Cornish brothers Mitch and Tyler, while Glen Buttriss and Sam Mataora have joined the Belconnen United Sharks in a huge boost for the struggling club.