Academy gives juniors chance to train just like Cowboys
By CRAIG ROSScraigr@gladstoneobserver.com.au
CENTRAL Queensland's most promising young rugby league players will be virtual apprentices to North Queensland Cowboys, thanks to the club's new Rockhampton-based academy.
As reported in The Observer yesterday, the Cowboys' Rockhampton academy has already hosted two training sessions, featuring 20 talent-identified players in the 13-15 years age group from the Rockhampton and Gladstone District Rugby League competitions.
Training under the guidance of Gladstone coach Richard Duff and his Rockhampton counterpart Darryl Horstman, the academy's inaugural intake of players earlier this month completed the first two of a total of 20 sessions.
Duff said the training sessions, which concentrated on skills work and did not have a fitness component, began with the basics and would gradually grow more com-plex as the players developed.
'Our main focus at the first session was getting on top of gripping the ball,' Duff said.
'If the players can't do that properly, it's hard to get the rest of their game right.'
In essence, the juniors are put through an identical training program to that devised for Cowboys players.
'There's nothing different to what these lads are doing than players in the NRL do,' Duff said.
Duff said the Cowboys' regional academies, also located in Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and Central Highlands, were evidence that the grass roots of the game were a priority for the NRL club.
'It has a nice feel about it,' Duff said.
'Footy's going back to the regional areas.'
Duff is also keen to establish a Gladstone district academy, conducted in the same fashion as the regional program, in which other talented youngsters from the local junior competition can participate.