JUNIOR Clarence Valley rugby league clubs will be at the centre of a revolut-ionary trial from next year.
Country Rugby League officials have announced a plan to improve the dropout rates of 16 to 18-year-olds by shaking up the age rules of the competitions.
The change will mean the under-16 and under-18 competitions will be known simply as the 16s and 18s, allowing junior players to fully develop before moving up to the senior grades.
CRL Regional area manager Kevin Hill said the three-year trial would be confined to the east coast.
"The trial is for the east coast competitions and if successful will spread across the whole league," Hill said.
"At its most basic interpretation, the rule will allow players to mature before moving to seniors.
"We hope it will ensure a high participation rate and retain players in our code."
The way the rules governing the age competitions are now, an under-16 player who turns 16 on July 4 would have to finish the season in the under-18s.
Under the proposed changes, the player would be allowed to play the season out in the newly named "16s competition".
Hill said while the changes would benefit players in that situation, it wasn't a mandatory process.
"We estimate it will only affect a handful of players from each club.
"But we'll be sending letters out to all affected juniors early next year," Hill said.
"It isn't mandatory for the players to do it but it can help them."