Junior rugby league players from St Pius X Primary School in Dubbo were dreaming big after meeting Manly NRL players on Thursday. The junior players, from ages 11 to 13, toured the Sea Eagles’ headquarters at Narrabeen as part of Telstra’s inaugural Junior Rugby League Interchange Program.
Kids from Dubbo meet Manly backrower Shane Rodney as part of the Telstra Rugby League Interchange program at Sydney Academy of Sport on Thursday.
“The kids are inspired to go on and do a lot more with football,” St Pius sports co-ordinator Greg Cant said. “They know how lucky they are to be here.”
St Pius players were given a closed session with the Sea Eagles team prior to the team’s training session. This provided the kids with the opportunity to meet players originating from rural NSW, including captain Jamie Lyon and George Rose.
Cant said the players were “wonderful with the kids.”
“With the players that came over to see us, being from a country area, it proves it can be done,” Cant said.
Manly front-rower Rose attended high school and played junior football in Bathurst before making the grade as a professional player.
“I know how much of a big thing it is,” he said. “I never thought I’d be playing NRL in the big smoke.
“It’s definitely something for the kids to aspire to.”
The Telstra interchange program is a grassroots initiative designed to give juniors from country and city areas an taste of each other’s world. Cant was certain the program had been a success.
“Seeing the kids and how they sat there watching in awe of the players today was brilliant,” Cant said. “Seeing the parents on the trip with smiles on their faces is invaluable as well.”
St Pius, with a football team comprising 18 senior players, were provided with the opportunity through rugby league development officer Mark Armstrong.
Manly back-rower Shane Rodney declared the program a “great opportunity.”
“They don’t get to see NRL players every day,” he said. “I remember when I was in primary school, there were a couple of teachers who were on the fringe of first grade - I thought they were superstars.”