STEP FORWARD: Dan Withers, pictured celebrating the Cowboys' win at last month's Elite Eight Series with teammate Lachlan Hock, has welcomed the introduction of the touch premiership.
STEP FORWARD: Dan Withers, pictured celebrating the Cowboys' win at last month's Elite Eight Series with teammate Lachlan Hock, has welcomed the introduction of the touch premiership. CONTRIBUTED

Rocky touch legend hails introduction of exciting new comp

TOUCH: Rockhampton touch champion Dan Withers has hailed the introduction of the 2018 NRL Touch Premiership as an "amazing step forward" for the sport.

The innovative competition was announced yesterday and will see elite touch games played as curtain-raisers to NRL games for seven weeks.

It will feature six teams - three from Queensland and three from New South Wales - with the games broadcast on Fox Sports.

Withers, who represented Australia for nine years and has been a long-time fixture in the Queensland Cowboys for the Elite Eight Series, said it was an incredible day for touch.

"It's fantastic. I'm so excited for the sport and so excited for what this means for the young players coming through.

 

Dan Withers, who played for Australia for eight years, says the new competition presents great opportunities for emerging touch talent.
Dan Withers, who played for Australia for eight years, says the new competition presents great opportunities for emerging touch talent. Glen Eaton

"It presents a great opportunity, playing at the greatest stadiums in the country, basically being treated as professional athletes and having your talent showcased on national television.

"This sort of experience will be invaluable."

Withers, who captained the Cowboys to their third consecutive Elite Eight title last month, said he was excited at the prospect of being involved in the inaugural premiership.

"This has been in the making for a few months now but to see it come to fruition is just amazing," he said.

"It will definitely be an entertaining series and it will provide a great spectacle.

"I think playing on a shorter field will make for more attacking touch and the players' talent will really come to the fore."

Withers said the premiership would encourage greater participation at the grass roots level of touch and provide a direct pathway to the NRL for touch players.

Touch football has been a breeding ground for a number of NRL stars including Benji Marshall and Valentine Holmes.

WHAT IT IS

  • The NRL Touch Premiership will feature six teams; three from Queensland and three from New South Wales.
  • The first round will start in line with Round 11 of the NRL on May 18.
  • Each match will feature two 15-minute halves with a two-minute half-time.
  • The field with dimensions of 60m x 48m and a touchdown zone of 10m will be placed lengthways between the NRL 20m lines and the tram lines of the NRL field markings.


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