Stirling Mortlock backs Aussie version of NPC

Last updated 19:30 11/12/2013

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Former Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock says it's imperative ARU powerbrokers put agendas aside and make a success of the National Rugby Championship.

Several second and third-tier competitions have been staged in various formats since the 1960s, with the last attempt at lift-off coming in the form of the ill-fated Australian Rugby Championship in 2007.

The ARC survived just the one season, but ARU chief executive Bill Pulver insists steps have been put in place to ensure the NRC won't be a financial disaster when the concept is revived in 2014.

A broadcasting and sponsorship deal with Fox Sports and Foxtel will cover the cost of running the competition, freeing the ARU of any financial burden.

Pulver is confident Australia will have a domestic competition to rival New Zealand's and South Africa's and Mortlock hopes for the sake of the code in Australia he's right.

Mortlock believes it's essential Australia is on an even playing field with its two southern hemisphere rivals - currently the only two countries ranked ahead of the Wallabies - at a development level below the national team.

"Without a doubt we've been crying out for this for a long, long time and you'd argue that it's been too long," Mortlock told AAP on Wednesday.

"New Zealand have got the ITM Cup, South Africa have got the Currie Cup. We don't have any equivalent.

"This will give us that tier competition that we've been after and it will be a great opportunity to get a bridge between club and provincial rugby, which is what we so desperately need.

"It's so important for us to have and the political powers that be need to understand how important it is for Australian rugby to grow and to put agendas aside to make this work."

Although the mechanics of the competition have yet to be finalised, the revamped national competition will run from August until November and feature eight to 10 teams.

All Super Rugby players not involved with the Wallabies will be required to play.

"The how is still to be nutted out and the devil is always in the detail," Mortlock said.

"But it's nice that it looks as though it's going to be funded and it's going to be on TV as well.

"So there's a lot of positive foundations, but there's still a lot of things that need to be agreed to and I'm not privy to those at this stage.

"But first and foremost, I think it's a fantastic result for Australian rugby in general."

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- AAP

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