Academy and Wests Tigers Committed to Player Development
Written on the 7 July 2014 by SWSAS
Player development and ‘player poaching’ remains a hot topic at all levels of Rugby League, but none is more critical than that of players developed in their local region and enticed by big NRL cheque books to play elsewhere.
South West Sydney Academy of Sport, executive director Gerry Knights said, “We are fortunate in our region to have a NRL club like the Wests Tigers dedicated to the development of junior Rugby League across all age groups.
And, given that the South West Sydney subregion, is forecast to provide 37% of all metropolitan Sydney’s population growth 450,000 people, between 2011 and 2031; it is rightly seen by the NSW Rugby League as one of, if not ‘the nursery’ of future Rugby League development.
When you look at where Sydney Metropolitan players come from, South West Sydney tops the list with 35%, followed by 31% from Western Sydney; and it is envisage that these two figures will increase further in coming years, recognising current population development trends.
I have seen and been associated with, an enormous additional increase in Wests Tigers supported player development over the past 3 years, and this has not been missed by local parents, players and clubs alike. This does not come without a cost to the club, and it should have some formal avenue to protect its investment in junior development”.
Developing players is highly time-consuming as well as being an expensive investment, yet there are no incentives for clubs to develop players, or any financial rewards for clubs who develop players who eventually make it to the NRL.
The Wests Tigers recognise that player development provides the club long-term NRL on-field quality player sustainability, but this also provides the same outcome for the development of the game overall, without any financial payback by the code.
The Academy has worked in partnership with the Wests Tigers for the past 11 years and has supported the club in its 14’s and 15’s development programs, as well as fielding a team with the assistance of the club, in the prestigious NSWRL Harold Matthews Cup competition.
The Academy has demonstrated its commitment to junior rugby league locally by providing development and representative programs costing in excess of $400k, over the past 6 years.
Knights said, “The provision of highly skilled Wests Tigers development staff based locally has had an enormously positive knock-on effect around town and seeing junior talented players proudly decked out in their Wests Tigers and Academy gear is something we should all be proud of.