Future NRL stars from the Northern Rivers have stepped foot into the Titans facility, with two junior representative sides given the chance to train at the NRL team’s headquarters.
The Laurie Daley Cup and Andrew Johns Cup under 16 and under 18 teams from the Northern Rivers Titans hit the field, wrestle mats, gym and ice baths at Parkwood as part of their affiliation with the Gold Coast based side.
Jamie McCormack, the Titans Elite Player Development Manager, says it was a great opportunity for the players involved.
“We’ve had a formal agreement with the Northern Rivers area and part of that is to support the representative programs, but we’ve never been able to bring the boys up here to train at the facility, so this is the first time,” McCormack said.
“The range between the border and Grafton is our catchment area in the Northern Rivers so there is a lot of distance.
“We do a lot of training in Ballina because it is a central location, but to bring the boys up and to physically train at the NRL headquarters of the Gold Coast Titans in the same gym as NRL players and using ice baths and to show them where their pathway lies is really important.”
Mark Harrison, Chairman of Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League, says while the academy has been going for many years, this was the first time they got to see first-hand what an NRL side does.
“I said to the boys at the start of the program that there would be a lot of academies out there that would be jealous of what we’ve got and we’ve got to thank the Titans immensely for what they’ve provided us,” Harrison said.
Jamie McCormack says the visit is another reminder to local talent from the New South Wales side of the border that there is a local pathway to the NRL.
“It’s just about making them feel more aware that this is their pathway,” McCormack said.
“If they want to be NRL players they don’t have to go to Sydney, they can do it all in their own backyard and stay close to home.
“There is plenty of great talent to come from the region and namely for us at the moment you’ve got Brian Kelly from Ballina and Anthony Don from Grafton are really good role models and good country kids that aspired to be NRL players and have made that happen.”