COUNTRY Rugby League regional manager David Skinner believes the looming merger with the New South Wales Rugby League can only improve governance of the game, with bush football set to benefit from a much-needed cash injection.
Reports on Tuesday revealed the CRL and NSWRL are set to sign off on a merger before tonight's State of Origin decider, which will ensure NRL boss Todd Greenberg distributes most of the $9 million in funding to the state.
Group Nine chairman Peter McDermott will attend the meeting, where it is expected officials will fall in line with Queensland by forming one governing body.
Skinner highlighted improving referee numbers, rewarding volunteers and addressing player participation drop offs in the 15 to 18 years age groups as areas the money could assist.
"Queensland has always been strong because they've had the one body running their state, whereas we've got two bodies running ours and they both run differently," Skinner said.
"I'm hoping we'll pick the eyes out of both, and use the good points about how each of them does their jobs.
"If they could reduce the costs per player for the essentials like insurance and registration, it'd be great.
"Our trouble areas are referee participation, volunteer participation, and our player participation once kids get older.
"What do we have in place to encourage volunteers to give up as much time as they do? It would be nice if there was some bonuses to help them along.
"If they could put some money into plans on how to increase referee participation levels, that'd be awesome, and also our player participation levels from 15s to 18s, which is a national epidemic in all codes."
Skinner added the merger would open up more chances for junior talent in regional areas like Wagga to represent their state.
"What tends to happen is kids here, if you're not playing Harold Matts or SG Ball with an NRL club, they don't get considered for state selection," he said.
"In Queensland they can wear a state jumper anywhere form primary school onward. It would be a big bonus for the country kids because they all want to wear that blue jumper."
Group Nine operations manager Bob Hay agreed relieving the financial stress on clubs and players to stay involved in the game is a priority.
"They (NRL) are quite active in establishing pathways for country kids and the development of the game, but would would help is easing the financial burden with volunteers, player payments and referees," Hay said.
"Referees at an average home game can cost a senior club about $1000 and that's a fairly substantial whack for bush footy.
"Maybe some for of subsidy toward that could improve things."