Western legend honoured with the Peter McDonald Premiership

HONOUR: Peter McDonald (right) will have his name attached to the Western competition. Photo: NICK McGRATH
HONOUR: Peter McDonald (right) will have his name attached to the Western competition. Photo: NICK McGRATH

The 2022 joint Group 10 and Group 11 competition is set to be named the Peter McDonald Premiership, in honour of the late, great Rams administrator.

NSW Rugby League Western regional manager Evan Jones confirmed the naming of the new title race this week, admitting it was only really a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, particularly when talking about the man known more commonly as 'Ace'.

McDonald was a giant of Western Division, and was the longest serving chairman in the division's history.

He died on July 26, aged 65, after a long battle with illness, and at the time still held that chairmanship and was the secretary of Group 10.

He'd held that role since the 1990s, and before that was the secretary of the Cowra Rugby League club as well.

McDonald bled green and white, and Jones said naming what will be a landmark competition in honour of arguably the division's staunchest figure was fitting.

"We sort of came up with the idea just prior to Ace's passing," Jones explains, the idea the brainchild of both Peter Clarke and the current Western regional manager.

"We were hopeful of telling him, but he took a turn before we had the discussion.

"We spoke to (McDonald's wife) Sue and the family and it was announced by Clarkey in Ace's eulogy.

"There's not a single person that's more passionate about Western Division than Ace was. It'll be apt to have it named after him.

"In no way does it reflect all of his achievements in the game, but we think it certainly shows our appreciation for what he has done for rugby league here."

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Jones' focus has long been on the new competition looming in 2022, and he admits its eventual form wasn't what they envisaged when a proposal was initially floated to clubs in March.

It was a long consultation process with clubs, Jones said, but the end result will be one to savour.

The finalised competition will run from April to September and will feature a Group 11 conference and a Group 10 conference.

The crossover matches, potentially to be played at one or two locations, will be something similar to the NRL's Magic Rounds and offers clubs the chance to play against sides from the other conference.

There will be a minimum of four of those crossover rounds next season while the competition will also feature a top eight finals system involving the best sides from the two conferences.

"That was the point of the consultation process. The ideas shifted and changed. Where we are now is great," he said.

Jones confirmed nominations from the region's clubs for the competition will be taken in September.

"And we should have draws by end of the year," he added.

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