True Blues Matt King, Mark O'Meley and Phil Bailey are among the new-look coaching staff to lead the NSWRL pathways program in 2018, under the guidance of newly-appointed Coach Development Manager Alan Thompson.
Thompson, who holds decades of experience in sport and coaching – including 30 years with Swimming Australia and eight seasons at the Bulldogs – will oversee the restructure of the NSWRL pathways program, previously held by Brad Fittler.
Thompson assumes the role on the back of sustained success for the NSWRL, with the Harvey Norman NSW Women's Interstate Challenge team and the NSW Junior Representative sides (Under-18 and 16) claiming their back-to-back titles last season, while the Under-20 team remains unbeaten since the annual interstate match began in 2012.
The NSWRL pathways program extends beyond the on-field talent. King (Under-20), O’Meley (Under-18) and Scott Jones (Under-16) have all earned their new head coaching roles having been assistant coaches during last year’s successful Origin pathways campaign.
Jones, who is currently the Parramatta development manager, will be aided by Bailey as the assistant coach for the Under-16 side, while Ian Bourke (Newcastle Knights Under-20 assistant coach) will assist O’Meley for the Under-18 team. Bailey returns to Australia after three seasons coaching in Hong Kong.
“I’m extremely eager about the opportunity to work alongside some of Rugby League’s most exciting young coaching talents,” Thompson said.
“My role will be to assist the coaches in becoming the best version they can be. I’d like to think I can add value to the pathways program and offer my skills and experience.
“During my time as coach at Swimming Australia and football manager at the Bulldogs, I believe there is more to coaching than what is seen at face value. As well as coaching development, personal and professional development is imperative.”
NSWRL General Manager - Football Barrie-Jon Mather said: "We’re very happy to have been able to recruit a person with the background and experience of Alan Thompson to the important role of Coach Development Manager at NSWRL.
“He has coached and mentored at the highest level, led swimming teams throughout a number of Olympic Games and has vast experience of Rugby League through his work with the Bulldogs.
"We’re also very pleased to have Matt King, Mark O’Meley and Scott Jones as the head coaches of our pathways teams.
"They are all very talented coaches who were assistants on the program in previous years working under Brad Fittler. It’s good to see coaches being identified and progressing up the coaching pathway for NSW."
Players selected in this year’s pathways program (Harvey Norman NSW Interstate Challenge side and NSW Under-20, 18 and 16) will come together in February and March in preparation for their respective mid-year matches against Queensland.