Victoria’s Junior Gold Cup players are taking inspiration from the state’s first home grown Melbourne Rebels squad members with the signings of Sione Tuipulotu and Rob Leota, proving a huge drawcard for the next generation of Victoria’s talent pool.
ARU Media caught up with Melbourne Rebels’ Coach Education and Elite Pathway Manager Nic Henderson, who is excited about the opportunities available to players coming out of the program.
“It really is a bit of a flag in the sand to see these young boys that are coming through now two years down the track, because they’ve got someone to compare themselves with.
“They’ve also got someone that the program can revert back to and say these kids developed through this.
“The benefits they got from it (Junior Gold Program) have played a large part in their development in getting them to where they are, which is a professionally contracted Rugby player.”
Sione made inroads in 2015 by being named in the Australian U20s squad that compared at the Junior World Championship in Italy.
With the Melbourne Rebels having their best Super Rugby season to date in 2015, the influence is filtering down.
“We tend to mirror what the top team is doing in a lot of facets of the game.
“We water down the content but we like to have some core values and some core systems that reflect that of the main squad.”
For the U15s and U17s JGC squads, the sides are focusing their attention on conditioning and core strength training in this stage of preseason.
“Conditioning is a massive part of Rugby, we sort of take the view though that our JGC side is really about long term player development,” Henderson said.
“It’s not about flogging kids to their death, it really is about trying to get them into great shape for the competition.”
The program is going from strength to strength as it continues to build on previous years, with the Victorian teams benefitting from extra trial matches before the commencement of the competition.
“We’re quite lucky because having two trials really gives us an extended season but also gives the boys a chance to iron out the creases and get the rust out of them, which they would have built up over a few months.
“It gives the coaches a really good sense of who’s got the right to start the game and kick start the season.”
Victorian teams kick of their Junior Cup campaign on Sunday 14 February 2016.