Academy kicks off in Bundy
LEAGUE: Bundaberg's best rugby league juniors now have a pathway to directly play in the NRL after a historic announcement yesterday.
The NewsMail can reveal Bundaberg State High School and the Central Queensland Capras have signed an agreement to form an elite academy in the region of the best teenagers from 14 to 18.
The academy will train fortnightly, through coaches from the school, and be overseen monthly by Brisbane Broncos game development role officer in Central Queensland Casey McGuire.
McGuire is a former State of Origin representative for Queensland and played for the Broncos in their 2006 premiership success.
From there the best players will progress potentially to the Capras under-18, under-20 and senior sides before moving to the NRL if they get that far.
The program has links to the Brisbane Broncos as well, through McGuire's involvement, which provides a pathway for the first time in the Rum City between junior football, the Intrust Super Cup and the NRL.
"It's an opportunity for the kids to be part of our system,” Capras CEO Peter White said.
"It's something I believe that not just the Capras but the QRL should have done a long time ago. No one has really given the kids the opportunity.
"It's real exciting for us.”
The academy is already underway with 25 players selected for 2019 .
McGuire said the talent had impressed so far but added that wasn't what the whole program was about.
"They've got some ability but we're going to focus on their attitudes and teach them how to compete,” he said.
"Hopefully the skills, respect, responsibility and teamwork can come back to the classroom.”
Bundaberg State High School rugby league coordinator Mark Handley said the program wasn't limited to 25 and more could come.
Handley added the deal came about following the school's success at the NRL trophy this year.
"The NRL trophy success definitely kick started it,” he said. "Literally 20 minutes after that final finished, (Peter White) got in contact with Chris Munro who is a rugby league figure here in Bundy and asked how can we get kids from Bundy High and other kids from Bundaberg to trial for the Capras.
"That got the ball rolling.”
The success saw players trial for the Capras and ultimately have eight from Bundaberg selected for the under-18 extended squad for next year.
Handley hopes the deal can see more make the mark in the future.
"We're really pumped,” he said.
"We're hoping to have academy games between our southern academies in Gladstone and Bundaberg and play against the northern academies of Rocky and Central Highlands.
"It's in the hope they progress and move to the Mal Meninga trials and stay in the Capras system.”