Plans for expansion in region's rugby league comp
RUGBY LEAGUE: There are plans for the region's division one competition to balloon to nine teams within two years and to 10 teams within five years.
Reduced to just six outfits in 2016, the Caloundra RSL Cup faced the prospect of a five-team campaign in 2017 after Gympie's exit during the off-season.
But Noosa was welcomed back into the fold this week, ahead of round one, while Beerwah and Gympie have goals to make their returns.
"Hopefully we're only a couple of of years away from having a comp with eight or nine teams again." Rugby League Sunshine Coast CEO James Ward said.
"Beerwah is a growth area. It's got a a growing junior club and it's important they get back to where they should be with a team in the premier men's comp."
"And they've done the work...we'll see where they are at the beginning of next year.
"And Gympie is in the same situation, in a rebuild."
Meanwhile, Bribie Island has also expressed its desire to get back into the top-tier.
"It would be great if we could get it right back to 10 (teams). That is probably five years away (although) hopefully it will not be that long," Ward said.
Beerwah was close to getting a berth in the competition this year "but they didn't want to jump in a year too early."
That the clubs are intent on reclaiming spots in division one, after dropping out at various stages during the past six years, is a promising sign for local rugby league.
There are also other causes for optimism. The reserve grade premiership boasts a staggering 18 outfits while the under-18 competition will feature 10-12 teams.
"That augurs well for the future," Ward said. "It's been a long time since we've had that many under-18 teams."
"We've had a rough year or so with teams really struggling and I don't want to get ahead of myself but hopefully we can this year rolling and not have too much difficulty."
The opening round of this season gets under way on Saturday. Amid the games, Noosa travels to reigning premier Maroochydore.