VIDEO: Capras launch rookie program for under 18s players
IN AN exciting development, the Central Queensland Capras have launched a rookie program. The new initiative is part of incoming Capras coach Kim Williams' recruitment drive.
"We will select four talented players from our under-18s roster who are invited into the Capras senior squad for the two-year program," Williams explained.
"We missed four already who went straight into the NRL. But we will get the next best four and we will select another four to five players each year.
"This is all about retaining the best CQ players. The four players will train with the senior team for the pre-season and also play in some trial matches. If they prove themselves good enough we will contract them straight away. But it is envisaged they will complete the two-year program by training one day a week with the Capras as well as playing in the Mal Meninga Cup and for their local clubs.
"The program will also offer the players skills and abilities outside of footy, such as employment options and leadership training, and we are presently talking to local companies as well as the Queensland Rugby League to get their involvement and support.
"This is all about establishing a player pathway into the Intrust Super Cup and beyond."
Williams was also quick to point out that the four players could be invaluable as reserves for the senior squad if the Capras are hit hard by injury, as they were this season.
Capras assistant coach Lionel Harbin will oversee the rookie program.
Williams has also brought in a specialised strength and conditioning coach, Steuart Rodie, who has a background in rugby union in Melbourne and now owns and runs a gym at Emu Park.
"I have been very impressed with his knowledge and enthusiasm," Williams said.
"Pre-season training will start soon and Steuart has already been working closely with the players. It will be a tough six-week block up to Christmas.
"Pre-season will be the hardest one I have ever put out to my players, but it is time to turn this around."
The Capras also announced two new key signings, front rowers Jack Kavanagh from the St George Illawarra under-20s and Cale Hobday from the Gold Coast Titans.
"Jack is an outstanding young player and brings size and aggression and he has a good offload," Williams said.
"Both these players are keen to re-establish themselves and get back into the NRL. They see this as an opportunity to do that and are also coming here to help turn the club around."
The Capras 2016 player roster is nearly set, but Williams is still seeking experienced outside backs.