Western Force scrum-half Alby Mathewson believes the new third-tier tournament will bring rewards and lift the standard of Australian rugby.

The National Rugby Championship kicks off in August and will be the Australian equivalent of New Zealand's ITM Cup and South Africa's Currie Cup.

Mathewson played 12 matches for Hawke's Bay in the ITM Cup last year after the Force's Super Rugby season ended.

Many players move into the ITM Cup after Super Rugby and Mathewson also played for Wellington and Auckland when he was with the Hurricanes and Blues.

"That's what I'm used to doing," Mathewson said.

"It is pretty beneficial and will be really good for Australia when they get their competition.

"Exposure to playing at a higher level rather than having five months off or just having to train or play at a lower level will be highly beneficial."

Mathewson has the incredible record of never having missed a Super Rugby match through injury and will bring up a century of Super Rugby appearances in his first game of 2014.

The former All Black also believes that as the NRC grows in strength, the number of overseas players in Australian Super franchises could be reduced.

"The national competition could actually push overseas players out because you are going to get exposure for more local players that can impress at that level and then get picked up at Super level," he said.

The West Australian

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