CQ boys undergo development session as part of elite squad
RUGBY LEAGUE: Last weekend the Central Queensland Capras went head to head with the Broncos 20s in a trial game at Browne Park.
While the result for both teams was not important, it gave Jason Hetherington (Capras coach) and Craig Hodges (Broncos coach) a further chance to fine-tune their respective teams before their seasons kick off in early March.
The Broncos 20s bring together a group of talented players from throughout the state. Many of these players commenced their rugby league careers in provincial towns and cities, working their way through the ranks to be selected in the Broncos elite player development squads.
While the Broncos were preparing for their trial, the next generation of Broncos players were going through their paces at Browne Park with the elite player development department headed by Brendan Barlow, Kurt Richards and Gerard Parle.
Thirty-two boys ranging in age from 13 to 18 have been selected from the Central Queensland area to make up the Broncos EPD squad for 2013.
Under the guidance of Richards (skills coach) and Parle (strength and conditioning coach), the squad will spend four sessions over the next six months fine-tuning their rugby league skills.
Each player is given a training program with key performance indicators measured at each session.
A DVD is supplied outlining their individual strengths and weaknesses and the various drills and strength programs that must be completed.
The players are provided with training gear and any other equipment that may be needed. A number of the present EPD members have been selected in the Cyril Connell and Mal Meninga cup squads and will represent the Capras in 2013.
The aim of each player in the EPD is to gain a contract when they complete their formal secondary education and move to Brisbane to become a member of the Broncos 20s squad.
The Central Queensland area has been a great recruitment catchment for the Broncos with players of the calibre of Ben Hunt and Dave Taylor just two of the many who have come through this program.
In 2013, Duncan Paia'aua and Harry Pondekas were contracted from the 2012 EPD squad from Rockhampton and both boys aim to feature in the Broncos 20s this season. The players continued involvement in the EPD requires them to ensure that their studies at school are not neglected and schools are contacted to check on attitude and performance.
The North Queensland Cowboys have a similar program running in Central Queensland with a similar number of players receiving expert tuition from Cowboys Academy coaches.
Not every boy in these programs will go on to play in the NRL, but they will certainly be better players from the experience and be a great asset to the region.