Possessing raw talent isn’t enough if you want to play rugby league for a living.
The NSWRL Under 16s 2016 squad was given a crash course in what it takes to become an Origin player with the NSWRL 2016 Pathways Program taking place over the weekend.
NSW VB Blues coach Laurie Daley, NSW Performance Development coach Brad Fittler and Blues legends Paul Sironen and Mark O’Meley shared their experience and inside knowledge to 30 of NSW’s young aspiring players.
“It was the ideal opportunity to gain an insight into the intensity and preparation you need at a higher elite level of football,” said NSWRL Performance Programs Manager Jamie Feeney.
In an intense overnight camp at Narrabeen, players went through a series of physical tests and on-field exercises as well as learning about the keys to success that come off the field. The rising stars of NSW were taught about the benefits of nutrition, health and well-being with educational workshops.
“We stressed the importance of making educated choices on nutrition and healthy eating as well as preparing them as footballers,” Feeney said. “These guys are learning what you put in your body plays a big part of your performance. They had a strong education around looking after their body.
“Half of them indicated they didn’t regularly eat breakfast daily before coming to the camp and didn’t understand the need to eat properly. After coming they now know how important breakfast is in preparing for school and training.
“It’s the beginning of a five or six-year path to becoming an elite Origin player. Hopefully, what they learnt becomes second nature in their preparation and performance, helping NSW rugby league in the long run.”
The camp highlighted the need to act generously, with time donated to pass out fruit to the homeless at the Matthew Talbot Hostel in Woolloomooloo as part of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
“The coaches stressed the importance of thinking of others, and becoming better as people – not just as footballers,” said Feeney.
It’s a busy offseason for the next generation of superstars, with camps for the NSW Under 18s and Under 20s Squads conducted over the next month, as well as the 2016 NSW Women’s Pathways Program kicking off in January.
“It’s two-fold; these guys are gaining an education to progress and one day wear the NSW Blues jersey, but also it’s also about the players taking this back and sharing it with their teams,” Feeney said. “Some of the boys came from the country and Queensland, and hopefully they’ll share what they’ve learnt in helping those around them while improving NSW rugby league and set the bar higher in the future.”