The Spotlight - Junior Development Camp & Cup Success by Joel Morgan

If the CQ NRL Bid’s message of full commitment and connection to Grassroots Rugby League is anything to go by than the NRL hold the keys to success, with our region waiting to be opened for an abundance of Central Queensland talent to be unlocked to represent a club for the REGION.

At the beginning of the 3.5 day camp held from last Monday in Yeppoon, CQ NRL Bid CEO Denis Keeffe reiterated the focus on development from bottom to top with  “We will be predominantly a Developmental Club, NOT Recruitment based” in an introduction to families. He further highlighted that point with “our club will not be a talent drain on existing clubs as we will have our own people”.

The Junior and Grassroots Programs, in particular CQ NRL Bid Junior Development Program that is being undertaken by the now U14’s since September 2011, have rated so highly that they have even caught the eye of the NRL.  Various NRL Clubs have also been impressed and some players in the inaugural 21 player U13s Squad last year have been identified by NRL Clubs. A further 5 have been added to the 2012 U14s squad from Tieri (Jackson Weir), Clermont (Jack Mills), Bundaberg (Andrew Nader), Childers (Ethan Sargent) and Monto (Jed Myles – QR National Scholarship holder). From the Development Camps this year a 20 man team will be chosen to contest matches.

Overlooking some of the sessions run under the Squad’s coaching staff consisting of Lionel Harbin (head coach), Rod Dahl (Assistant Coach), Justin Loomans (Program Trainer), Andrew Pratt (Player Welfare Manager) and Mick Nielsen (NEW 2012 U13’s Development Squad Assistant Coach),  the major experience was that it is clear there is a great culture already set in motion even in these early stages with the first Central Queensland NRL Development Program squad, including strong signs of hard work, camaraderie, communication, team spirit and athleticism.

Justin Loomans believes the rugby league program is already among the top in the country around this age group with the holistic approach already treating these juniors like professional players (everything from sports science, social media, responsibilities, health, food, fitness, player welfare and elite junior training) with the program more consistent with development camps during holiday periods and regular feedback. He later commented that “Not all will progress into NRL or NYC players, but all will progress into great young men”. When quizzed about how players could compare (even if at a very early level) Justin suggested some have styles like Steve Price, Kurt Gidley and even Sam Thaiday, “We have a lot of hard workers with big hearts and some explosive players.”

The program consisted of a large range of player personal development and performance sessions such as team building (trust) exercises, training drill (skill based) games, beach sessions, technique adjustment and fitness testing. Glenn Hansen from Vector Health said “It’s about the basics. Physically they have improved and they are lot better prepared and are at a higher skill level. They are much quicker, powerful and stronger. In 2011 there were a few outstanding athletically, but this year others have caught up.” Glenn elaborated that with their testing they re-evaluate statistics every camp and provide updated programs for the next school term and also find out for remote and local players if face to face or online support is best for each players (if needed setting up groups in sub regions).

Rod Dahl (Assistant Coach) said the U14’s “players will be a lot more prepared and developed (for the next games) and we have really noticed the results”.

Player’s Perspective:

Jack Glossop, a Gladstone Valleys junior said “It was a really good program. Not just for on field performance but off field player development. We are like one big team, the new boys came in well instantly and gelled well in the groups all camp.”

U14 Development Matches

Walson Carlos, CQ NRL Bid Business and Community Development Manager, suggested the 2012 U14 Squad may have the opportunity to play matches against Brisbane teams in Bundaberg and Northern teams in Mackay or Rockhampton.

Player Welfare (Agents and Management)
Various CQ NRL Bid administration and coaching staff were involved in discussions with parents about the risks of player management, including welfare, focus on young players, financial matters, concerns for clients and other important issues. While the Bid has said they won’t sign any young talent until a licence is given, they have suggested to parents whose sons have been identified to wait until the expansion has been decided. CQ NRL Bid also supports the fact the ARLC will be looking into player welfare and recruitment, notable issues surrounding ”stockpiling” involving clubs having from 200 up to 400 players on their books and so many are signed without having any real opportunity. Denis Keeffe said during his reign during the Cowboys most successful period he dropped the player levels from over 100 to near 52 players, hence enabling fast tracking of player development.

The Head Coach, Lionel Harbin suggests Central Queensland will be the next Family club in relation to the regional and rural players “we make them all feel a part of and connected to the program, they feel passionate about Central Queensland and like what the program is about.” Whether Bundaberg or Blackwater, Mackay or Monto we are all Central Queensland!

Intrust Super Cup:

Future Rivalry Round?

Central Queensland vs. North Queensland – now what a rivalry that would be in the NRL!
After the weekend’s great victory by the Capras with the club rebuilding this year they’ve called upon many young players from the local leagues and faced a tough Northern Pride side that has various players with NRL experience and heavy Q Cup success but the Capras won their second match from three at home (Browne Park) this season 28 to 18 – strong performances by NRL hopeful Tim Glasby (captain), Alan Rothery, Cheyenne Motu, Reece Baker, Sai Vatubua (would have scored a hat trick if it wasn’t for an attempted somersault and grounding gone wrong) and Gavin Duffy. The crowd on Thursday night was roaring and gave a standing ovation for their team!

The crowd the week before in the Capras narrow loss to the Ipswich Jets was close to 1200 (which is among the top club attendance levels in the Q Cup) despite two heavy losses! With the crowd numbers for the Easter clash on Thursday even higher.

Mackay Cutters also put in a strong performance with a 26 to 12 win over Burleigh Bears, with two late tries assuring the victory.

April 22 Sunday:

CQ Capras vs Redcliffe Dolphins, 2pm Browne Park

WIN TV (Channel 9) Game: Easts Tigers vs Mackay Cutters 14:10  Langlands Park

Young Guns

Capras U16’s  before their Easter break scored 180 points for three games over 2 weekends in the Cyril Connell Cup, 52 nil against Mackay Cutters, 70 to 24 over Ipswich Jets and 58 to 4 against Toowoomba Clydesdales. They face North Pride this weekend before a likely knockout semi final against Souths Logan Magpies (South East Conference leaders) on April 21st in Brisbane.

2012 Rhys Wesser Super 9’s Shield:

The Inaugural Under 14 Rhys Wesser “Positive or it’s Pointless” Super 9′s Shield kicks off this Thursday and Friday at Victoria Park, 1 Lion Creek Rd, Wandal, Rockhampton. The event is promoting positive and fun competition in sport, while is proudly supported by a number of sponsors, including the CQ Leagues Club and has support from CQ NRL Bid, ARL Development and the QRL. Ambassador and NRL Legend, Rhys Wesser will be at the event named in his honour to help launch the annual event that will be contested by teams from Dysart, Mackay, Sarina, Childers, Yeppoon and Rockhampton.

Where are they now?

Queensland Maroons, Premiership hero and NRL legend, Rhys Wesser is now involved in rugby league development as part of the NRL’s Ambassador Program visiting schools, clubs and regional areas across Australia and recently in Fiji where he along with other recently retired players were caught up in the Fijian hurricane and flooding disaster, including having to go to hospital himself – read more at CQ News.

Wish to contribute?  Let the Spotlight know at j.morgan@irfleague.it

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