McGregor floats reserve grade nines option

Matt Encarnacion
Paul McGregor has floated the idea of a nines competition for players not involved first grade

St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor has floated the idea of playing nines matches to replace the abandoned reserve grade competition this year.

The suspension of both the Canterbury Cup in NSW and Queensland Cup means NRL players not involved in first grade could be left without a game each week.

The NRL is understood to be exploring the possibility of merging its clubs under a hybrid competition, however no final decision has been made.

It has prompted McGregor to suggest a look at the shortened format, that could even be played prior to the first-grade match on game-day.

"I think (a trial has) got to happen. It's just around the biosecurity and cost of that to happen," McGregor told reporters on Friday.

"Even if it's a game of nines to get the players that aren't available or picked in that initial 19 players, it would be really important to get some game time into them.

"You can get a look at them and they get enjoyment out of playing."

McGregor's comments come after Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien implored the NRL to create a makeshift reserve grade for the mental wellbeing of his players.

McGregor echoed O'Brien's sentiments, adding that a Monday night fixture is the type of innovation the game needs during the coronavirus crisis.

"For different times we need to be innovative and come up with ways we can help one another out through this," he said.

"(It would ) get our players ready for NRL standard without just training and keep the enthusiasm up.

"It would be good to watch some combined teams play and it might bring another night of footy on the box."