Kris Radlinski has called on the RFL to start putting the wheels in motion for the full return of Reserve Grade rugby.
The topic was at the forefront of discussions last week, with some of the sport’s top players hitting out at the current state of the second-grade competition.
Only a handful of clubs are currently running a reserve-grade side, a fact that has come in for major criticism from several clubs, coaches and players.
The RFL released a statement in response in which it endorsed a fully-fledged reserve-grade competition but stressed it was at the discretion of the clubs.
However, Radlinski, who gained experience playing at reserve-grade level during his career before graduating into the first team, believes action has to be taken to accelerate its return on a game-wide scale.
“Rather than it being optional I think the leadership should say it needs to happen,” he said.
“It’s just not what it used to be. I’m quite old-fashioned and romantic about it. It’s a very different era and I appreciate that, but Thursday nights with up to 3,000 at Central Park watching the game, that’s been lost along the way. It’s such an important part of the development of players and also an offering for fans that people are missing also.
“Times are hard in Rugby League, there’s no doubt about it. Sponsorship is difficult to come by, salaries are going up and there are attractions elsewhere. But surely the development of players is a cost-effective way of keeping this down.
“We’re tied into minimum standards with regards to attendances, floodlight capacity and so on, but we’re not really marked on player development. Yet if we’re not producing players we’re in trouble.
“If you asked every head of youth in the league, they’re all behind it, but some clubs are led by their finance directors, so it’s difficult.
“We’re probably the only sport that hasn’t got a genuine second tier. We’re making it difficult on ourselves, having to make calls on kids at 19 years of age.”