Rugby league battle a boon

By CRAIG ROSScraigr@gladstoneobserver.com.au

FORMER State of Origin hero Michael Hancock believes the state's junior rugby league talent will be the beneficiaries as the Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys battle for their loyalties.

Hancock, who was in Gladstone yesterday in his role as a Broncos development officer, said the success enjoyed by the Cowboys during the past two NRL seasons had forced the Brisbane club to work harder to capture the support of the game's youngest fans.

"We have to work harder and now that the Cowboys have won support they can't rest on what they've done and have to work harder now too,'' Hancock said.

"It's great for rugby league and I think it's the kids who will reap the benefits.''

Hancock, whose development role brings him into contact with many different community groups, showed his easy rapport with the assembled primary school children at a coaching clinic at Marley Brown Oval yesterday morning.

"Like every job, you have your good days and bad days, but it's very rewarding. I enjoy watching the kids progress knowing you're helping them not only as a football player but also in life in general.''

Hancock, whose development position no doubt colours his view of the game, said this year's premiership victory by the unfancied Wests Tigers had provided a welcome filip for the code.

"The Tigers were about $800,000 under the salary cap whereas other clubs were just under it or right on it.'' Hancock said under-seige Broncos coach Wayne Bennett also had his support.

The former Broncos, Queensland and Australian winger said Bennett's long-term record spoke for itself, including his ability to develop talented juniors into champions of the game.

Broncos development officers also conducted a clinic at Gladstone High and met the public at an Australia Post store in the Valley Shopping Centre while in the city yesterday.



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