National Conference League clubs are currently in discussions with the NCL’s management committee regarding the nature of the competition this year, as grass roots sport emerges from the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Government has given the thumbs-up to training from the end of March – subject to all Covid-19 protocols being observed – and friendlies have been authorised from late April.

Conference bosses have mooted local games from early May, and have broached the possibility of divisional competition resuming towards the end of June. Hunslet Club Parkside went into the 2020 campaign, which was aborted last March, in the Premier Division, while Oulton Raiders and Stanningley were in Division One.

Hunslet Warriors were in Division Two while Drighlington and East Leeds were bidding to gain promotion from Division Three.

All clubs were asked by the National Conference League to register intent by Monday 15 March and Paul Thorpe of Hunslet Club Parkside told South of the River: “We have lodged our interest and also would like to see a full season played (if allowed due to the Covid restrictions). Failing that our preference would be a league with less teams in.”

Stanningley’s Club Administrator Nick Norfolk said: “We have gone for the option of a regional seven-team league which would mean reduced travel expenses and, if allowed, bigger attendances. I should imagine the Cumbrian teams – there are seven in the NCL – will have opted for that.”

He added: “We have also asked to start after 17 May, when we will be able to open the bar inside the clubhouse, as we think that – along with other clubs – we may struggle to get players to turn up and play and then just go home without the social side of things.

“We are also aware that players will be taking holidays and breaks away at the earliest opportunity, after having been confided for over twelve months.  Hopefully in 2022 we can return to the league system as normal.”

Hunslet Warriors’ Secretary Ainsley Bennett said: “We have entered this season’s NCL fixtures. From the looks of things we will be playing friendlies until June, at that point a normal but reduced season should start.”

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