Tigers coach Ivan Cleary.

Cleary says Warriors' plans to cut Jersey Flegg ties has merit

Ivan Cleary supports the Warriors' plans to cull their under 20 side from the Australian Jersey Flegg competition to revive the Auckland local league.

Warriors officials are keen to shift the club's Jersey Flegg side into the 10-team Fox Memorial competition as part of a strategy to retain local talent and re-establish pathways from 2019.

Cleary said it was hard to answer whether such a move would be good for the game in New Zealand but understood the Warriors' position.

''By the sound of it they are trying to strengthen the local game, which from first thoughts is a good idea,'' the Wests Tigers coach said.

''Whether it's a good idea to take it out of the Australian comp I'm not sure. I guess time will tell but it's important to have a clear vision on what they want to do.

''Improving the competition is a good one because I imagine it is to try and stop players leaving. It's probably a big job but you have to start somewhere.''

Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary played his junior football for the Mount Albert Lions in Auckland before the family moved to Sydney.

He joined the Penrith Brothers side in the local competition before being signed by the Panthers and debuting in the NRL as an 18-year-old. 

Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary played in the Auckland junior competition.
Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary played in the Auckland junior competition. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Cleary said he felt the strength of the local competition in Sydney was good for his son compared to Auckland.

''Nathan started playing rugby league in Auckland and when we left I actually said to him that the competition will be stronger, particularly out there at Penrith where the junior competitions are very strong,'' he said.

''It's a burgeoning part of Sydney and a lot of kids play out there. It's a strong comp so for him to be able to come through that ended up being good for him.

''Having said that, when he played [in Auckland] it was good for him too. The restricted weight categories that they have is a really good idea and it was definitely good for Nathan.''