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NZRL revamps junior development pathway
The New Zealand Rugby League is kicking off 2018 with a new look junior development pathway with an innovative new Talent Development Programme (TDP) designed to better prepare players working towards a professional career, while keeping players closer to home and playing in local competitions longer.
In recent years the week long National Youth Tournament (inter-zone competition for 15s and 17s) has identified the best 80 players who progress to a four day High Performance Camp, with the best of that group selected for NZ 16s and NZ 18s teams to play against Australian or Pacifica sides of a similar age.
Player numbers will rise significantly, with 176 taking part in the talent development programme, covering on and off-field development areas.
NZRL Talent Identification Manager David McMeeken explains “for the player’s long term career success, health and well-being, we know it is important for them to complete their education, training and study with family support.
We want them to stay in NZ where they have that and we can better develop them for the challenges ahead.”
The TDP has five key goals:
1. Ensure that young New Zealand players are better prepared for the rigours of high performance environments such as the NRL.
2. Personal development including educational and career aspirations - making sure they have a Plan B.
3. Recruitment and retention of players at teenage level in grassroots rugby league in New Zealand.
4. Better development pathways for all staff including coaches, managers and strength and conditioning staff.
5. Strengthen the grassroots game through player retention and the up-skilling of staff
McMeeken continues “NZRL has been in consultation with Auckland and Canterbury Rugby League, our Zone General Managers and NZ Warriors around this pathway and the alignment of a national calendar. This is critically important to managing player workloads and reduce injuries throughout the international and zone representative, club and school league year.
“New Zealand has a strong talent pool, with NRL clubs recruiting from across the country. The potential pathways for players from our New Zealand League community is huge and we intend to create more opportunities for our communities.”
NZRL Chief Executive Alex Hayton adds “we are extremely grateful to the NRL for their support of this programme. We have been working collaboratively for some time around changes to the pathway competitions and the recruitment policy. They appreciate we are a nursery of talent that feeds their high-quality NRL competition.
“We are hopeful that once our talent development pathway competition is established, NZ companies will see the benefits and become involved.”
Image: New Zealand Rugby League National Youth Tournament action courtesy of Rugby League Northland.
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