Panthers Host Country Rugby League Academy
Wednesday 30 January 2013 2:15 PM
The Panthers recently played host to the Western Division Academy. The academy is made up of country rugby league players from the Western region which stretches from Narromine to Forbes, as far north as Coolah and all the way down to Blackheath. The 30-strong group of players and coaches had the opportunity to learn from the Panthers coaching staff over a two day camp.
Their visit started with a presentation by Panthers High Performance Manager, Matt Cameron, NRL assistant coach Trent Barrett and Recruitment Manager Jim Jones. The staff talked to the players about what it takes to become professional footballers before the group had front row seats as the Panthers top 34 players went head to head in an intense opposed session.
After watching the Panthers train, the players were put through a coaching session. The players were split into groups and tested as they completed a number of physical training drills including, speed work, defensive/controlling the ruck and ball work. The session was held with great intensity under very hot conditions. Working with the coaching staff gave the players a great opportunity to showcase their skills and also provided a rare chance for the Panthers coaches to scout the talent of players from the Western region.
Wade Judd from Oberon, a coach working with the academy accompanied the players on the camp and says he’s very grateful for the time and effort the Panthers are investing into country rugby league. “It’s a really good opportunity to see how an NRL club runs, the boys got to witness what it takes and the effort required to be at the elite level” said Judd. Judd also talked about where the Western academy was heading, “We will train for the next four weeks culminating with some games in Tamworth against other academies.”
The following morning the players continued their work with the Panthers undertaking two skills sessions headed up by SG Ball assistant Ben Harden and Harold Matthews assistant Brock Shepperd. The players were also put through a rigorous core session with Harold Matthews trainer Nathan Mairleitner. The morning was capped off with a tour of the stadium and its facilities by Recruitment Manager Jim Jones and a light lunch before the boys showered and departed for home.
Speaking about his time spent with the Panthers, Ben Thomson from the Parkes Spacemen said “It has been a good experience for us boys. We got to come together as a group and make new friends and learn new footy skills. Watching first grade train was great, and then doing similar drills to what the Panthers were doing was very beneficial,” said Thomson. Moving forward, Ben wants to finish his HSC and his goal for football in 2013 is to progress through the Western Division Academy program.
The Panthers will continue their support of country rugby league when they travel to Bathurst and Orange on February 7th and 8th to take part in the NRL’s Community Carnival. They will visit 40 schools in two days helping spread the message of ‘Tackle Bullying’, and also educate children about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and the game of rugby league.