Fears rugby league players from region missing out on NRL due to Covid-19

Covid-19 is threatening to scupper the NRL dreams of young rugby league players in New Zealand.

The global pandemic has wreaked havoc on the domestic game in Aotearoa, with the national secondary schools and youth tournaments among a host of events to be cancelled.

Experienced administrator and rugby league agent, Jordan Friend, said the coronavirus has been devastating for the development of young players in New Zealand.

"Cancellations of these tournaments will affect players in terms of less exposure, but also mentally for kids not getting that opportunity," he said.

"Even for players who are established, the lack of playing opportunities has already limited their progression this year and there will be a lot of question marks on what's next for these players."

It's a second major blow for the schools tournament which was called off in 2019 because of a measles outbreak. Success

Former New Zealand Warriors captain Simon Mannering and retiring forward Adam Blair were among the names to have showcased their talents at New Zealand Rugby League's national tournaments, with both players going on to make over 300 NRL appearances.

Auckland-based agent, Dixon McIver, said the recruitment of players in New Zealand was already declining, hitting Māori and Pasifika players the hardest.

"It's really put a big dampener on the kids in particular this 15s, 16s, 17s and even 18 year-old age groups now because the possibilities where they've been waiting to have this crack are gone," he said.

"The players we produce here and that we semi-develop here go into a system, whether it be here or Australia.

"It's evident throughout the NRL now when you start looking at the percentage of players that are Pasifika especially, so this affects the recruitment status of these kids because they then start weighing up the cost of contracting a player from here."