The next wave of Group 16 rugby league’s representative hopefuls have been put through their paces.
A great turnout of junior league players took part in recent Red Energy high performance camps with the aim of expanding their skill base and representative play.
Organisers said the camps are aimed at the under 16s and under 18s – an area with a big dropoff in players in the past. The camps teach on-field skills and some off-field etiquette including talks on bullying and new ways of approaching social media.
After a number of camps a good contingent of players were named in squads who were rewarded with a training camp in the ACT alongside the Canberra Raiders over the weekend.
“The boys got the chance to mingle with the Raiders players and officials,” a spokeswoman for the camps said.
The camp included a walk-through tour of Raiders HQ, taking in aspects of what it's like to be an NRL player, having a welfare talk from Raiders officials of aspects that affect people and NRL players in society. The group also got the chance to watch intently the Telstra Premiership first grade squad going about its training session and take away some pointers to improve their own game.
They also enjoyed a stay on campus at the Australian Institute of Sport, eating and mingling with the athletes and learning what it's like to be a professional athlete.
The spokeswoman said the camp was well-received by the players and they paid utmost respect to Raiders players and officials, as well as the team at the AIS.
“A big thanks goes to Ricky Stewart and his staff of the Raiders for letting this happen,” the spokeswoman said. “And to the players who were very welcoming and loved to have a yarn with the Group 16 players.”
Players also thanked officials from the Raiders and staff at the AIS as well as the Cooma-based Red Energy, who made the camp possible. Organisers said this was the second year of running the performance camps and were excited to build more future plans and help develop young players.
Group 16 players who took part included Paul McGuire, Henry Bruce, Connor Breust, Reuben Smahel, Ross Griffith, Jack Godfrey, Conor Martin, William Bruce, Nathan Smith, Paul Sweeney, Dax Kelly, Mathew Moon, Jack McGuire, James Bundy, Kyle Shepherdson, Trent Casey, Liam Sweeney, James Grant, Jason Kelly and Jake McDonald.