NRL: New Warriors owners announce plans to scrap U-20 side

The new owners of the Warriors are wasting no time in making their presence felt, announcing the imminent culling of the club's U-20 team.

Just a day after declaring they'd be making no "radical changes" following the formal acceptance of their ownership bid, Auckland Rugby League Chairman Cameron McGregor told Newshub there are plans to withdraw the side from the Jersey Flegg Cup, formerly known as the NYC Cup.

McGregor said the ARL's long-term plan to retain local talent is to ensure that it's bred through Auckland's Fox Memorial competition, rather than the fledgling age-group league based out of Australia.

He claims around 800 players every year are lost to the other side of the ditch, an exodus which needs to be addressed.

"It's depleting our playing strength at a senior level," said McGregor. "It's really as a result of the pathways here not working properly. What we have to do is try to re-establish those pathways.

"We've already had an example in the past when we had the Bartercard Cup and the Lion Red Cup going, where we were able to get our local competition up to a very high standard to match the likes of the NSW Cup."

"If we can get it up to that level then why would we want to go and play football in Australia? We can keep all of our players here, it doesn't cost us as much money, and we can put that money back into our local game."

It also removes the need to bring those promising players back from across the Tasman, where they're often promptly swept up by the Australian system and lose their motivation to represent New Zealand, says McGregor.

"Boys are going at 14, 15 to Australia and not coming home again, so not only are we losing them as players, but all of those players never come home."

McGregor pointed towards former Kiwi, now Tonga representative Jason Taumalolo as a prime example.

"He goes off to Australia when he's 14 he's got no affinity to New Zealand, and growing up in the rugby league environment here. So his desire to play for New Zealand is decreased.

"The longer we keep those players here, the better it is for the game."

Although the Warriors have experienced their share of success in the U-20 grade, having won it on three occasions.

However, it's been on a steady decline in popularity for a number of seasons, with TV coverage decreasing as most of the exceptional talent is promoted directly to reserve grade.

It's also no longer run by the NRL, New South Wales Rugby League taking over as its reputation as a feeder division continues to wane.

If the level of play in an NZ-based competition could be raised high enough, McGregor believes they may even look to withdraw the Warriors reserve grade side from the ISP Premiership.

"If we could get that standard of football to where we want it then I doubt whether we'd even send a reserve grade side.

"Better to have all of those players here in New Zealand and take them through where they can enjoy the comforts of home.

"We know some of the players don't get treated well while they're away, so to have them here with their family getting looked after properly, being able to get to that high standard here, then there isn't such a jump from there to the professional side of the sport."

The 2018 Jersey Flegg is already underway and will be the last of its kind to include any Warriors representation, with the side's removal scheduled for the end of the current season.