Intrust Super Cup undergoes finals revamp
THE Intrust Super Cup has undergone a shake-up with Queensland's premier rugby league competition to follow the lead of the NRL by introducing a top-eight finals system next season.
The Queensland Rugby League released the 2019 Intrust Super Cup draw on Wednesday with the revamped schedule to beef-up the finals shootout from six to eight teams.
The NRL first introduced a top-eight playoffs format in 1999 and the Intrust Super Cup will follow suit next year after receiving feedback from the competition's leading coaches.
North Queensland's fairytale surge to make the NRL grand final from eighth spot in 2017 is evidence teams ranked in the bottom half of the top eight can mount a genuine premiership charge.
Fourteen teams will begin their quest for Intrust Super Cup supremacy from March 9 before the new top-eight finals race kicks off in the second week of September.
QRL major competitions manager Dave Maiden backed the decision to increase the finals combatants despite the Intrust Super Cup having two fewer clubs than the 16-team NRL.
"Changing the finals format from six teams to eight will keep more fans engaged throughout the season," he said.
"It will add to the overall excitement and anticipation that the competition brings each week.
"Our clubs identified this move as a priority in 2019 and we are pleased to deliver an outcome that will assist them greatly moving forward."
The grand-final replay between premiers Redcliffe and the Easts Tigers will be played in Round 8.
The Dolphins have a challenging start to their title defence, with two of their first three games away from home, including the Rivalry Round match against Wynnum Manly.
A total of 170 regular-season and finals matches will be played in 2019.