Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

On the Right Path

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

On the Right Path

Article excerpt

Byline: Daniel McKenzie sport@dailymercury.com.au

Rugby League: Raiding of the region's most promising footballers is set to be arrested with the Mackay Cutters making a major push to develop and retain young talent.

While a long-term breeding ground for great rugby league talent the likes of Wendell Sailor, Dane Gagai and Renae Kunst, Mackay's young talent has regularly been lost to north and southern Queensland and Interstate.

But with the NRL abolishing the National Youth Competition in 2017, the QCCS Cutters are establishing a pathway to the NRL from the grassroots at a local level through their Junior Development Program.

Announcing their 2018 McDonald's Cutters Academy Squad yesterday, the Cutters' audacious bid to nurture and retain rugby league's next generation will allow young footballers an opportunity to stay in Mackay and continue their rugby league education through the program.

"It's extremely important that everyone understands that our young talent do not have to leave the support of their families and community at such an early age now that the pathway is here in their own back yard," said Mackay Cutters CEO, Troy Rovelli. With the creation of the Junior Development Program, the Mackay Cutters will work closely with local junior players in clubs and schools to ensure players, coaches are on the mark with with modern coaching practice.

As junior players progress through the age group ranks, Cutters staff will work closely with junior clubs to identify talent.

"Once they finish school, whether they are looking for an apprenticeship, traineeship or further study there's no better place than right here in Mackay to combine that with footy and the support of their families and friends where they live," Rovelli said.

"I am more than confident in the coaching staff and the program that the Cutters are running will match any system in the rugby league pathway market place."

Under Mackay Cutters' head coach Steve Sheppard and academy coordinator Scott Thorburn, academy coaches work intensively with squads of high performing juniors aged from 12-18 from the area in rigorous fitness testing, on field skill development and strength and conditioning. …

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