Western Force fly-half Zack Holmes believes the new National Rugby Championship will give local players the opening they need to stay in Perth and aim for Super Rugby.
The WA product was forced to move to Sydney in 2011 for exposure to better rugby as the financially disastrous previous third-tier competition, the Australian Rugby Championship, had been shut down by the Australian Rugby Union four years earlier.
Holmes, one of several Force players in the new Perth Spirit squad that kicks off their NRC campaign later this month, said closing the gap between club and Super Rugby would help players make the big jump to professional ranks.
He is also confident it will unearth some hidden stars from club rugby.
An Australian Sevens representative who spent two years at the Force academy, Holmes signed with the Brumbies for two years after his move east but came back to the Force this year.
He was in his last year at Aquinas College when the ARC was scrapped.
"When I was 17 or 18 I saw it as my pathway to Super Rugby and it was pretty disappointing when it only lasted a year," Holmes said.
"You knew it would be pretty difficult making it from Perth and there wasn't too much opportunity, which is why I went to Sydney.
"This new competition gives guys belief that they can make it from here. That's what they want, to be seen and be able to prove themselves.
"It is hard to know how good some club players can be without putting them in that higher environment. I'm sure there will be some good players coming through. They will get a higher level of rugby and it can only benefit them."
Spirit kick off the NRC against the Vikings, Holmes' old ACT club, on August 23 in Canberra.