Academy squad kicks season off at Tamworth

FORTY one young rugby league hopefuls were inducted into the 2015/2016 Greater Northern Academy Squad at the Tamworth Sports Dome on Saturday.

The 2015-16 GNA squad in Tamworth on Saturday. Photo: Gareth Gardner  311015GGD06

The 2015-16 GNA squad in Tamworth on Saturday. Photo: Gareth Gardner 311015GGD06

A busy day of fitness testing and welfare talks followed the official induction ceremony for a talented array of sporting tyros.

It could be the launching pad for an NRL career and, while there have been a number of players to have gone on to NRL careers, the vast majority may not ever make it to the NRL,  NRL Community Clubs and Schools Programs Manager  Paul Walker said.

“My focus is on the Under 18s across Australia,” he said.

“The Queensland Rugby League, NSWRL, Country Rugby League and all the other states. This (GNA) forms part of my job.”

He was brutally frank with the young players and their parents about their chances of making it to the NRL and told them of the programs such as Careerwise, Characterwise and Healthwise, which have been designed to enhance performance and help “our athletes” play a better game on the field and in every area of life including work, school and further education.

Walker said it’s all about “preparing them better on and off the field”.

NRL welfare and education committee chairman Neil Whittaker, said “every element of the program is designed to help our young players grow and develop their potential in every aspect of their lives”.

 Meanwhile, Robbie Farah’s “fight” to keep his hooking spot at Wests Tigers begins today when the NRL club commences pre-season training.

However embattled Tigers coach Jason Taylor continues to give no assurances NSW hooker Farah will play first grade in 2016.

This story Academy squad kicks season off at Tamworth first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.