The return of a reserve-grade squad to Featherstone Rovers is one of the best things to happen to the club in recent seasons.
That is view of club general manager Davide Longo, who also feels that the snubbing of the reserves is the “single biggest mistake that the game has ever made.”
Featherstone will be funding a reserve team in 2019, coached by former Wakefield Trinity and Huddersfield Giants stand-off Paul March.
Longo feels that Rovers will reap a number of benefits next season.
“Certainly for me, I have seen the reserves as a great development pathway,” said Longo.
“It is a bridge between academy and first team and it serves a number of purposes.
“It is probably the best decision that I have made at the club.
“In my opinion it was the single biggest mistake that the game has ever made.
“I have been a fan of the reserves and it has been something I’ve wanted to implement ever since I’ve been at Featherstone.
“We have now made the ball move, I still think there are a lot of clubs not putting in a reserve grade so we are sitting with a seven-team competition.”
The Featherstone general manager feels that more teams should have reserve teams but admits that too many reserve sides could damage the community game.
“There are enough teams to play each other a number of times but there aren’t enough teams taking part in the reserves,” he added.
“I want to be right about it as well, I don’t think that it is right in this area that Featherstone, Castleford and Wakefield suddenly have reserve-grade teams, because that is going to damage the community game, and we don’t want to do that. We want to ensure that there is a pathway for players who have been on different courses in their life.
“I think at this moment in time that the RFL, and the game in general, has tried to pigeon hole players. You know, if you are 14 or 15 you go play in a scholarship, at 16 you go play in an academy but that is not the course of everybody’s life. Some people take up apprenticeships or college courses, rugby league is not always there. So we need a route for people to get back into the game when they get to 19 or 20, I think the reserves serves a great purpose.”