Registration fees for Junior Rugby League players in Queensland’s flood and cyclone affected areas will be waived for 2011 and interstate clubs from the grass roots to the NRL will be called on to join an Adopt-a-Club program to continue Rugby League’s support of Queensland communities affected by the state’s recent disasters.

NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, today joined QRL Managing Director, Mr Ross Livermore, Rugby League legend, Mr Mal Meninga, and the man leading the game’s disaster relief program, former Brisbane Broncos CEO, Mr Bruno Cullen, to reinforce Rugby League’s long-term commitment to helping those affected by the Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi and to outline some of the progress already made.

Reminding everyone of the ongoing need for support were representatives of the Karalee Tornadoes Junior Rugby League Club, whose members were left devastated by the floods, with 20 of the club’s 56 families losing their homes and the club losing all its equipment except a few sets of jerseys and some plastic chairs.

Already, the NRL clubs, NRL and QRL have put together donations totaling in excess of $300,000 and over the past month hundreds of NRL players have also spent time visiting communities and assisting in clean-ups.

Also underway are several online auctions including one allowing fans to bid for the playing strips of both the Learn. Earn. Legend! Indigenous All Stars and the NRL All Stars and further events are being planned throughout the year including an exclusive State of Origin captains’ dinner as a major fundraiser during this year’s series.

NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, today announced the Adopt-a-Club program which will encourage NRL and grass-roots clubs across Australia to follow the lead of Sydney junior club the Kellyville Bushrangers - who have adopted the Theodore Roosters - and partner affected clubs or regions in fundraising efforts.

“The speed with which players have got out in the community to assist in clean-ups and fundraisers shows just how deeply this has affected everyone,” Mr Gallop said.

“As well as the NRL and the clubs, we had people across the Rugby League community getting together and there was no more public example of that than Mark Geyer and Triple M raising more than $450,000 with a Legends of Origin game.

“As everyone knows this is a long-term project and while it is difficult to talk of the devastation of football clubs at a time when people have lost everything, the fact is that Rugby League is a part of communities across Queensland.

“Ensuring that kids can have a game of footy and giving people something to smile and cheer about is part of the rebuilding process.

“By encouraging clubs at all levels of our game to adopt an affected club or region, we can help ensure all of the 40 Rugby League communities affected get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

The QRL today announced that registration fees for Queensland Junior Rugby League players whose parents’ homes were affected by flood and cyclone would be waived for the 2011 season and that Intrust Super, sponsor of the QRL’s Intrust Super Cup competition, had also pledged its support of the initiative.

“As well as the emotional hardship these communities are facing, many people are also doing it tough financially,” QRL Managing Director, Mr Ross Livermore, said.

“By waiving the registration fee for Junior Rugby League players in flood and cyclone affected areas, we can help lessen that financial burden and also help kids regain a sense of normality by getting them back on the footy field.

“Over the next few days we will be contacting affected Junior Rugby League clubs to let them know how they can register their players for 2011 under this initiative.

“QRL sponsor Intrust Super has also come on board to help ensure kids throughout Queensland have the chance to play footy in 2011 and will support the first 200 registrations from families in need.”

Fundraising opportunities will continue throughout the year and all fans are currently encouraged to join the bidding for the actual playing kits of both the Learn. Earn. Legend! Indigenous All Stars and the NRL All Stars. Bidding, through nrlauctions.com, reached $14,000 in the first 24 hours alone and will continue until midday AEDT on March 1.

Also continuing will be visits by NRL players to affected areas with the Melbourne Storm heading to Karalee and Ipswich next week as they prepare for their trial match against the Broncos.

Karalee Tornadoes President, Peter McKewen, today spoke of the spirit and mateship with which the Rugby League community had come together to help each other during and after the floods.

“Our community as a whole hasn’t been tested for an awfully long time and I’m very proud of the way people dropped everything to come together and help out our mates,” Mr McKewen said.

“No one asked questions, we just went and did what we had to.

“I’m particularly proud of the way our Tornadoes family has helped each other out, from people who have given rooms in their houses to those who lost theirs, to the ladies collecting and handing out goods to the families affected.

“I’d also like to thank the wider Rugby League community whose support has been amazing.

“There are two very important things that have to happen to get our communities back on their feet; one is being able to get the kids back to playing footy and sport and the other is to get the parents back to work so they can earn a living and start rebuilding.

“All the fundraising and help from the NRL clubs, the NRL and the QRL is helping to do that and I know all the Karalee Tornadoes juniors will be looking forward to the Storm visit next week and getting back on the field themselves.”

Details on how to get involved with the Adopt-a-club program will be available soon on NRL.com.