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By NSW Waratahs Media unit
Four NSW Under 16 teams will play at the Invitational Tournament to be held at the Sydney Academy of Sport at Narrabeen this weekend, in a selection trial to choose two teams to represent NSW at the national titles in September.
The selectors have chosen 95 players for the four teams from those who competed in the recent state trials that involved hundreds of players from around NSW.
The four teams represent NSW Schools 1 and 2, NSW Country and Sydney Juniors.
Coach Education and Pathway Manager for NSW Rugby, Matt Evrard says that the weekend games represent a big change to the way that the talent identification or pathway system now works.
“The Under 16 trials and the representative teams haven’t been around for the past four years, but now we have a very hands-on role across all of these player selections leading up to this tournament,” Evrard said.
“We think this system where NSW rugby is heavily involved from the start, is identifying the right players at this age.
“We find the 16’s age group pathway hugely beneficial to our system and we want to make sure we’ve been out there actively looking at players in this age group, making sure they know we’re interested in them.
“Whether you’re a school student or a kid from the country or a player in the city, we’re looking at you, whether that’s at club level or at school level, we’re keeping an eye on all players.”
Once the players have competed at the national titles the selection process continues with a small group of identified players moving along the talent identification pathway.
“Out of those two NSW teams, we’ll look for a small group of standout kids who will then be inducted into our off-season training program, working in with the players to develop them towards entering the Under 19’s and 20’s system,” Evrard said.
“It’s about getting them to understand not just what’s expected of them in a playing capacity, but in a performance preparation capacity as well.
“It’s a long term investment in these players. We’re trying to get a fingerprint on these players early and getting them in a blue jersey as soon as possible and getting them to stay in it until they become a professional athlete.”
Twelve high level selectors will be at the games over the weekend to identify the best players from the four teams, but the selection criteria extends beyond just who are the best players on the ground.
“We’ll pick players who understand and perform to the section criteria which they have all been given and that is based on what we think Waratah players can be in the future,” said Evrard.
“There is no question about what those kids have to be doing and the selectors will be marking them on that.
“There is also some key criteria that are NSW-centric that makes that player stand out in a blue jumper. They are not just playing characteristics they are qualities that are shown on and off the field.
“We want to see a player who acts like a Waratah, whether he’s talking to referees or his parents or talking to selectors, we want to see those qualities in the player.”
Two teams representing NSW 1 and 2 will play in the National titles at The Southport School in Queensland from September 24 to 30. The teams will be announced by the NSWRU on Friday July 21.
WHAT: INVITATIONAL U/16s SELECTION TRIALS
WHERE: SYDNEY ACADEMY OF SPORT, NARRABEEN
SATURDAY JULY 15TH
10am: Country Juniors v NSW Schools 1
11.15am: Sydney Juniors v NSW Schools 2
1.30pm: Country Juniors v NSW Schools 2
2.45pm: NSW Schools 1 v Sydney Juniors
SUNDAY JULY 16TH
10am: Country Juniors v Sydney Juniors
11.15am: NSW Schools 1 v NSW Schools 2
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All the results and standings following the weekend's rugby fixtures in NSW schools - stay tuned for updates.