Retired National Rugby League veteran Jeremy Latimore has described some of the proposed changes to junior rugby league as "ludicrous".
The former St George Illawarra, Cronulla, Penrith, Parramatta and New Zealand Warriors journeyman believes abolishing competitive matches until under-13s will create more problems than it solves.
Latimore played his junior footy with the Port Macquarie Sharks before he progressed to play 182 first grade matches after making his top-grade debut in 2009.
"Life is hard and I've had that much stuff not go to plan, but [sport] builds resilience and if you're un-conditioning kids by giving out participation awards... that frustrates me," he said.
Latimore believes the changes will contribute to a group of kids who aren't resilient and who don't know how to lose.
"When little Johnny goes from his non-competitive sport to competitive, struggles through his teenage years and gets turned down at his first job interview... his parents have to pick up the pieces," he said.
"They'll tell him 'it's okay, you'll get the next job', but he doesn't know how to deal with it. I feel any competitive sport teaches you from a young age to work harder as an individual and as a team."
It came after the National Rugby League and New South Wales Rugby League signed off on the changes to junior footy in September.
Under the changes, competitive matches will be wiped out until under-13s while tackling will be banned until midway through under-7s.
Latimore, however, "didn't mind" pushing the age where tackling was permitted back from under-6s where it currently sits.
"I don't mind the tackling one at all because it really protects the younger kids and still allows the coaches to teach them how to tackle at training, but I'm 120 percent against the non-competitive stuff," he said.
"You can have kids who are four playing against kids that are six so I don't mind that (tackling change). If you can still teach the kids at training how to tackle... that's a key skill."
The changes will flow down into country rugby league which has left local coaches with plenty of questions and left Group 3 junior rugby league disappointed at the lack of consultation.
NSW is the final state to adopt the Rugby League Ready model, which was recommended in the player development framework drawn up by Ivan Cleary, Ben Ikin and others in consultation with the NRL.
The model was first introduced in south-east Queensland in 2019, with the region experiencing significant increases in numbers. It was then extended across all of Queensland.
Latimore is unsure whether the changes to competitive ages will extend over the border to Queensland.
"I bet they won't do it and they'll continue to dominate us in State of Origin," he said.
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