Illawarra league fans will get an extra chance to watch their team in action next year with an innovative eight-team Challenge Cup competition to supplement the Coal League season.
All six Coal League teams will feature in the tournament, while two others from neighbouring competitions will also vie for a healthy cash prize.
The competition will begin with two double-header fixtures prior to season kick-off on April 11, with a semi-final double-header to be held on May 9 ahead of the final in June.
League manager Chris Bannerman likened the format to the popular Amco Cup held during the 1970s and 1980s and said it would bring added interest to local rugby league in the Illawarra.
"I think there's a place for it at the moment, particularly as we're in a situation where we're in a rebuilding phase," Bannerman said.
"I think it's our obligation to keep the competition interesting and engaging for supporters and players alike.
"Offering a second competition with some worthwhile prizemoney and a bit of a different format keeps the whole thing interesting and probably helps make up for some of the deficiencies we've got at present with a six-team competition."
The initiative was unanimously endorsed by all six Coal League clubs at Monday's committee meeting and Bannerman is confident the clubs will put their best efforts into the competition.
"The clubs have given us every indication that they will," Bannerman said.
"The incentive is there for clubs to take it seriously. It's a valid competition and a worthwhile exercise for everyone and the clubs are all on board.
"It'll start at the back-end of the preseason so we would imagine most sides will have had a couple of hit-outs before then and be looking to finalise their best squad before the round one clashes.
"It's only adding potentially three more games for a side who gets through to the final so I don't think the burden's too much.
"In reality footballers love to play football so I think everyone's going to embrace it."
The two teams from outside the league are yet to be confirmed but Bannerman said the Challenge Cup has already attracted preliminary interest from a number of heavyweight clubs.
"We've had initial discussion with a few interested parties," Bannerman said.
"We'll be looking to extend invitations to individual clubs before Christmas but there's already been some interest there."