St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham has revealed that he believes the sport will be stronger for the implementation of a proper reserve competition in 2016.
The Saints are one of just a handful of Super League clubs taking part in the reserve grade next year, with Wigan, Warrington and Hull FC the others to set up a reserve side and compete against each other and teams from the Championship and League 1.
And Cunningham revealed to the club’s official website that the system will only do good things for the game – adding that the “black hole” of having to release players after age 19 can now finally disappear.
“The move to bring back reserves was championed by Mike Rush. He got everything going and teams jumped on board. The game will be stronger for sure.”
“I’m really pleased the reserves are back for the new season,” he continued. “It takes away that black hole and stops us losing talent when players reach 19.
“We’re in a situation where you can go out, recruit and nurture a player and then by the age of 19 if they aren’t a superstar you have to let them go. That is a ridiculous situation.”
Cunningham pointed out that under the current system, stars like James Roby would have been lost to the game forever.
“We can now look at kids until they are 21 or 22. Not everyone is a superstar by 19; you only have to look at the likes of Mike Bennett and even James Roby. We could have lost them under the current system,” he said.
“You spend a lot of time and finance getting a player through the system; it’s hard work and to then say thank you very much, you’re gone, at 19, is ridiculous.”