League stars training young guns in footy trial
RUGBY LEAGUE: The next generation of rugby league stars took part in a skills and drills session with prominent rugby league players during the North Burnett leg of the Road to Regions tour.
More than 40 junior players took part in a skilled training session in Gayndah with Cheyse Blair (Melbourne Storm), Simaima Taufa (Australian Jillaroos) and Kyle Laybutt (North Queensland Cowboys) providing tips and tricks into rugby league.
Laybutt was born in Mundubbera but moved to Bundaberg at the age of two said it was important that the rugby league association gave back to the community.
"It's massive, you see the looks kids give you and especially being around this area, it makes them realise it is possible to make the NRL coming from a small town like this,” Laybutt said.
Melbourne Storm player Blair said the juniors were taking part in drills and exercises.
"We put the kids through some drills and they also were playing a mini rugby league game which put a smile on their faces,” Blair said.
"I know when I was a young fella getting to see older league boys come and participate put a smile on my face, it makes them train harder and it makes them want to do stuff and it can inspire them.”
NRL development officer Mitchell Sargent said it was vital juniors were given the opportunity to play rugby league.
"It's all about promoting rugby league but also we are visiting the schools promoting well-being and junior sign-on,” Sargent said.
"It's all about helping the Central Burnett rugby league teams out.”
Sargent said the NRL had a few fundraising initiatives for the Gayndah community.
"We've got a few fundraising events planned, and we'll be heading to Mundubbera on Thursday night for another fundraising event,” he said.
"We are working hard to promote rugby league but it's giving the kids an opportunity to meet the NRL players, the kids out here don't have the opportunity to meet these guys.
"For the players to come to the town it's an experience the juniors will never forget.
"It also shows the small towns that the NRL does care about them, and that grass roots rugby league is going strong with volunteers, players and coaches, the top level wouldn't exist without them.”
Junior player Hugo Baker said his favourite team was the Broncos and his favourite player was Johnathan Thurston.
"I love everything about it because when you play here, everyone lets you have a turn with the ball, they're very caring,” Hugo said.
Australian Jillaroos player Taufa said she was proud to see women's rugby league thriving.
"I feel grateful to be where I am and I feel fortunate to have debuted in 2014, there was a lot of ladies who made the sacrifices to allow us to be in the position we are in today,” Taufa said.
"I'm looking forward to the 2018 season and getting more girls involved with the game.”