NSW Rugby’s decision to align their Junior Gold Cup (JGC) teams to the state’s four Buildcorp NRC sides is paying dividends with the Sydney Stars aligned Eastern Province using it as an inspiration for the 2016 season.
“The NRC link has given them a defined pathway where they come through the U17s,” Eastern Province U17s Head Coach and NSW Junior Gold Cup Coach Development Officer Michael Burgess says to ARU Media.
“Previously players would either play for NSW Country or finish with the JGC, there wasn’t a set pathway for them.
“Now they’re aligned with an NRC team, the players see the next step in their journey and onto hopefully playing for the Waratahs and ultimately the Wallabies.”
Eastern Province’s catchment area is the Hunter, Newcastle, and Central Coast regions and this part of the world has been a breeding ground of Wallabies in the past with 114 Test Capped Wallaby, Adam Ashley-Cooper hailing from Ourimbah Rugby club on the Central Coast.
The first round of the JGC for 2016 edges closer and for Michael Burgess and his managers the selection headaches are continuing.
“The competition for places is a lot stronger, especially with NSW going into six teams instead of ten and a couple of areas combining so the competition for spots is a lot stronger than it was in previous years, which is good to see.
“Just selecting the squad of 40 was a difficult task because of the calibre of the players that trialled from across the regions.
“The next stage to reduce to 25 is also going to be a challenge. But that’s a good position to be in. We’d rather be in that than the other position where we’re looking for 25 players who are at that standard.
There are going to be a couple of players unfortunate to miss out but that’s a testament to the strength of the squad.”
With Eastern Province having some tough pool opponents including the Victorian and ACT sides, they are still looking to play with an adventurous game plan.
“We want to play an open attractive style of Rugby and one that’s enjoyable for the players,” Burgess said.
“I’m not a big fan of playing conservatively, so we don’t want to stifle their talents and really get them to show us what they’re capable of rather than putting them in a shell and locking away their skills.
“We want them to utilise their skills and really go out there and showcase because after the JGC there’s a chance of making the City or NSW Country squad’s and then hopefully NSW U17s selection.
“I want them to really go out there and show what they’re capable of and really give them an opportunity to kick start their careers. “