The Greyhounds had a strong Canterbury Cup campaign, finishing top of the table at the end of the regular season before losing their semi-final.
They will share players with the Papanui Tigers who will be lining up in the Canterbury Cup premier reserves grade next season. Under an agreement signed by both clubs on Monday they will be able to call on players registered with the Tigers and vice versa during the 2024-25 seasons.
The clubs are aiming to eventually field teams in both grades. The agreement comes after Canterbury Rugby League-affiliated clubs opted to change the senior men’s competition so all clubs with a premier grade team must also have a team in the premier reserves.
Said CRL chief executive Malcolm Humm: “It is exciting to have Greymouth Greyhounds included in the Canterbury men’s premiership.
“Their results in 2023 demonstrated they are on a strong performance trajectory and, combined with Papanui Tigers, the increase in senior men’s numbers provides a real pathway opportunity for both of these clubs and their players.
“Additionally, we believe this will provide a significant boost to rugby league on the West Coast. Canterbury Rugby League views this as our opportunity to support southern zone and the West Coast in growing the sport in a traditional rugby league heartland.”
The historic addition of the Greyhounds means seven teams will challenge for the Massetti and Canterbury cups next season.
They will each play 12 regular season matches before a four-team finals series. Discussions are also under way to stage a pre-season knockout competition.
The Greyhounds will play their six home games at Wingham Park in Greymouth and Papanui Domain.
Said West Coast Rugby League chairman Brad Tacons: “It’s really exciting for us – it’s going to be a challenge, but it’s a challenge we’re going to take with open arms and give it our best shot.
“In 2017 we lost the senior (West Coast) comp, the Greyhounds were established in 2019 to keep the local guys playing footy – and we only had 17 players, so we’ve hung in there till this point and this is by far our most significant step and most exciting one.”
The agreement also gives the Tigers’ top players a chance to feature in the premiership and will be a stepping stone for the club to return to the premier grade. Premier clubs will also have a chance to challenge for the Thacker Shield next season.
The shield is held by the Greyhounds after they defeated the Tigers in a Canterbury Cup clash last season.
It will go on the line at their home games next year, whether at Wingham Park or Papanui Domain.
By Will Evans