Academy tackling pre-season
A GROUP of young league talents have been hard at it since October last year — before their NRL heroes even returned to the paddock from the off season.
The Bundaberg Junior Rugby League Academy, now in it’s second season, has grown to accommodate 100 budding juniors from all local clubs looking for the edge.
Last season only 40 players were run through their paces, but now 20 in each age group, from under-13 to 18 make up the squad and are in perfect shape to represent club and town in 2010.
The under-16 and 18s will compete in the Mal Meninga and Cyril Connell cups before the regular season even kicks off.
Competing against teams from the Sunshine Coast, South Burnett and Wondai will prove a tough task, but Bundaberg Junior Rugby League vice-president Garry Anderson is confident they can match them.
“Obviously Sunshine Coast has a bigger pool to pick from but I think we have the talent to compete,” he said.
“This program has really taken off, the boys are keen as and it really gives them a head start into the new season.”
“Every two or three years you get a group of guys who are above and beyond expectation, but right now we have a lot of quality kids who are really excited with the game.”
Their dedication to the sport has been recognised by Bundaberg Radiology, who has got behind the Academy financially.
They will now be known as the Bundaberg Radiology Junior Rugby League Academy.
“They are great, not just for rugby league, but for all sports,” Anderson said.
Queensland Rugby League Wide Bay manager Dave Pearce was ecstatic with the news of the grant.
“The have put money into a few of the clubs already and it’s important that we recognise how crucial their support is,” Pearce said.
Pearce and Anderson were the brains behind the academy’s creation and have watched proudly as it has grown.
“I guess it was almost three years ago now that we thought about doing something like this,” Anderson said.
“It’s always hard getting the older guys here because of work and school. And if you are good at one sport you are good at another, so a lot of them are busy with summer sports.”
But they are still managing to get good numbers to the sessions, which involves skills and fitness plus gym work for the older kids.