After a successful entry in an abbreviated under-20s competition this year the Western Mustangs have been included in the expanded state-wide under-20s competition announced by the Queensland Rugby League on Thursday.
To be known as the Hastings Deering Colts, the under-20s competition will feature 13 of the current Intrust Super Cup clubs as well as the Western Mustangs based out of Toowoomba's Clive Berghofer Stadium and reaching out to Darling Downs centres such as Roma and Kingaroy.
And they will enter the inaugural season of the Hastings Deering Colts full of confidence after the Mustangs qualified for the semi-finals this year before going down to eventual champions Redcliffe while their under-18s were Mal Meninga Cup champions, defeating Souths Logan in the grand final in May.
The inclusion of the Mustangs in the Hastings Deering Colts is a significant step towards inclusion in the Intrust Super Cup and provides a vast number of junior players a pathway to elite level competition without having to leave their town or region.
By disbanding the National Youth Competition the NRL recognised the importance in allowing young players to develop their games in familiar surroundings where possible and managing director Rob Moore said the QRL were delighted to welcome the Mustangs into the state-wide 20s.
"One of the real strengths of the Hastings Deering Colts is that players will be able to play in a high-standard state-wide competition without having to move from their home region, which was a regular occurrence under the previous National Youth Competition model," Moore said.
"We've identified this region as a really important footprint for the game.
"This competition will give young talent from Toowoomba and the Darling Downs an opportunity to stay at home and represent the Mustangs, and hopefully in the not too distant future they will be able to push up into an Intrust Super Cup team as well."
The 2017 Intrust Super Cup champions, the PNG Hunters, are hoping to enter an under-20s team into the competition in 2019.