Was thinking about how a few of our juniors don’t kick on in first grade, and I wonder if a part of the problem is the gap between Canterbury Cup & first grade? Once upon a time there was a genuine reserve grade, but now some of the best next generation players play up in the QLD Cup. From what I understand most good judges think the Queensland Cup is a fair bit better than the NSW Cup. So what’s the possible solutions? One big solution would be for the NRL to create a national second division. Personally I think this would work best if NRL teams had affiliate teams in the second division. This would allow the game to spread out a bit further into towns & regions that don’t always see decent footy. The Panthers seem to like doing everything in house, 3 grades and all that. But is this really the best solution? Look at the success the Melbourne Storm have had with using the Queensland Cup. I dare say those younger players might learn a bit more if they’re away from home. It’d be a good life experience, help their maturity. The panthers for instance could have their affiliate team based in Bathurst to help build on the connection we already have to the region. Now I concede the above is probably a fair way off. From what I’ve heard the QRL have always been resistant to a national second division, as it would basically mean the end of their comp. So barring that, what about the Panthers send a few select players to a QLD Cup team for a year or two? If it’s the better competition, those guys are going to be able to hit the ground running more easily when they get to first grade. I think this idea that we need to do it all in house with three grades is old school thinking, other clubs proven you don’t need to do that.