GREATER Northern Academy coaches had an exacting ordeal this week to select the 40 players for their Tiger and Cub squads.
Those squads will be named tomorrow but only after coaches pored over video footage of last Saturday’s trials at Jack Woolaston Oval, North Tamworth to help with what they had seen first- hand.
GNA head coach Matt Kenny was perched high in the “Squirrel Box” at Jack Woolaston Oval with Cubs coach Peter Stevens sifting through some 108 young players slogging it out in the heat to make the squads.
To be eligible for the Tigers squad, the players must be turning 17 in 2016 while players turning 16 in 2016 are eligible for the Cubs.
“There’s some outstanding young kids out there,” Kenny said.
“It makes our job very difficult.
“The video review will tell us a lot more.”
He said the launching of the Northern Inland Academy of Sport Rugby League program would also be a huge benefit to the GNA.
“The kids (15-year-olds) will be able to develop their skills a lot more,” he said.
“Then when they come to us, their skills will be that much better which will make it a lot more interesting for us.
“We won’t have to go back and do the basics but the kids will come better prepared and make it a lot more fun for us, as coaches, so we can do a lot more ball work with the boys.”
Stevens, who will coach the GNA Cubs again this year, is in charge of the NIAS rugby league program.
He, too, sees that NIAS program as a great “launching pad”.
“We’ve had a real good day here,” he said in the Squirrel Box.
“A long day but we have a lot of real good kids from all around the region.
“It’s going to make it tough to select but that’s where the video will help us.”
GNA manager Scott Bone said the new GNA squads would be inducted on October 31 on a big day where NRL Welfare Officers will attend along with NSW and CRL High Performance Manager Matt Parish.
The first training camp will be held in Tamworth on November 21/22, followed by a second camp before Christmas and then a final camp late in January.
Games against the Knights follow on February 13 with a big finish to the program when all the CRL academies join in for a final weekend at the Narrabeen Academy of Sport.