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Toyota Australia will sponsor a national Under 20s NRL competition from next year as part of a significant expansion of its involvement in rugby league.

The Toyota Cup will provide the curtain-raiser at every NRL match.

It will become the premier competition for fostering young talent through to the NRL senior ranks.

As part of the new sponsorship deal, Toyota has signed on as a partner for the NRL's centenary in 2008.

Toyota will sponsor next year's Centenary Cup - knockout competitions to be held in NSW and Queensland for rural and regional clubs.

The winners of the two state-based competitions will play a final as the curtain-raiser to game three of the State of Origin series.

In addition, Toyota immediately becomes the official car sponsor of the NRL with benefits across the various organisations of the game.

The company will also figure prominently with grass signage for all Saturday NRL games, starting this weekend.

Toyota Australia's executive director sales and marketing, Alan Porich, said the support of Toyota and its dealers was aimed at developing rugby league's promising talent.

"Young players are the future of this game and must be nurtured with the right training and education to realise their potential," Mr Porich said.

"The new Toyota Cup will become the elite pathway for young players to progress to first grade," he said.

"The concept is similar to the American college system, acting as the stepping stone between amateur clubs and the professional sport.

"It will have a strong focus on education and training, including rookie camps and other initiatives aimed at developing a new breed of NRL player.

"Toyota and its dealers are pleased to be able to add to their existing support for local community clubs and the game at the grass roots," Mr Porich said.

Toyota's expanded NRL sponsorship deal is additional to the company's sponsorship of the North Queensland Cowboys and Brisbane Broncos as well as the Sharks' home ground, Toyota Park in Sydney.

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For further information contact:
T: 0418 447 064

Toyota and the NRL today launched the Toyota Cup, a national under 20s competition to run from 2008. Pictured (L to R) are NRL chief executive David Gallop and Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Alan Porich. (April 12, 2007)