The opportunity to be one of the first players to pull on the CQ NRL jersey is sure to inspire young footballers like Sam Offord, 11, to keep striving to improve. Sam took to the field for The Hall School at Browne Park yesterday.
The opportunity to be one of the first players to pull on the CQ NRL jersey is sure to inspire young footballers like Sam Offord, 11, to keep striving to improve. Sam took to the field for The Hall School at Browne Park yesterday. Chris Ison

Eyes on young talent

A SQUAD of elite 13-year-old players drawn from throughout Central Queensland will be the first to pull on a CQ NRL jersey later this year.

The best of the best of the region's rugby league starlets will be coached professionally and have all their expenses paid under a sponsorship deal with the Stanwell Corporation announced yesterday.

And, according to bid chairman Geoff Murphy, there's every possibility the junior development squad will uncover future stars who will eventually play in the premiership for a Rockhampton-based club.

The youngsters will be selected through an extensive scouting program, and a squad of 20 will be announced in September. They will play a series of games at the end of the year against the best rugby league schools in Brisbane and, possibly, North Queensland.

They will receive training not only in rugby league, but also in life skills, such as diet and alcohol, how to handle the media, and acceptable behaviour for professional sportsmen.

Mr Murphy said that the under-13s could progress to form the core of an under-20 outfit to feed the NRL team should the bid succeed in getting a franchise for a professional club.

“We are starting to select young lads now and casting the net to places like Longreach, Barcaldine, Mackay, Bundaberg and Gladstone as well as Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast.

“We know there is some marvellous talent out there and there's a passion in the bid team to give these players a chance to be part of the team,” he said.

Mr Murphy said with four members of the Queensland State of Origin line-up from Central Queensland it was clear the region could compete with the very best.

Trevor Hooper, Stanwell Corporation's acting general manager of business services, said the company was committed to supporting the development of young people in the region.

He said the initiative would provide an opportunity for talented youngsters to stay in the region longer while providing a career path through to the NRL.



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