CQ bid team kicks rugby goals in Sydney
RUGBY LEAGUE: CENTRAL Queensland could soon provide the blueprint for junior player development in the NRL.
Rugby league authorities in Sydney, including Phil "Gus" Gould, were glowing in their praise of the CQ NRL Bid development program after a successful tour by the under-15 team at the weekend.
The CQ NRL Bid team held the premiership-winning Penrith Panthers' junior development team to a 10-all draw on Friday night and thrashed the Parramatta Eels 42-16 on Sunday.
CQ NRL Bid development manager Ian Webster could hardly contain his excitement yesterday as he emphasised the significance of the weekend's events.
And he is hopeful the Sydney visit could result in reciprocal tours from Penrith and Parramatta which could become an annual event.
"We have made some pretty strong ties with some pretty influential people in the NRL who couldn't believe where we are at and what we are doing," Webster said.
"We had very encouraging messages from Phil Gould himself about how impressed they were with the squad.
"They are keen to replicate what we have done and come up and see us next year.
"It is amazing to think that such strong junior development bases are looking to do what we're doing and copy our model.
"That is a really, really big honour.
"The perfect outcome from this now is that we attract NRL systems to our territory to play against our teams on our turf."
Webster said he would in the next week complete a review of the tour and a cost breakdown, which he would forward to Gould (Panthers' general manager) and Daniel Anderson (Parramatta general manager), along with an invitation for the league bosses to bring their junior development teams to CQ next year.
"We are hoping to make it a yearly event where they come to us and we go to them on alternate years," he said.
Webster paid special tribute to the sponsors who had made the tour possible.
He said the 18 members of the CQ NRL Bid under-15 team were "over the moon" - and rightly so.
"Every single kid on this tour was brilliant. They have done their families, their schools, their region proud," Webster said.
"They went to the strongest development squad in Australia, the Penrith Panthers, and drew 10-all.
"They were very unlucky not to win; they were in charge for the whole game.
"On Sunday, we went to Parramatta and won 42-16. That was quite a score."
Webster is confident the team's strong showing will help bolster Central Queensland's push for an NRL team.
"The whole of Sydney are talking about us.
"It's going to make the NRL stand up and reconsider what's going on here," he said.
"They have to take us seriously now."