Junior rugby league growth to boost new Macarthur Conference

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The Macarthur Conference rugby league competition will launch in 2022 off the back of substantial growth in junior development in the South Western Sydney region.

The Conference set up will have Wests Tigers Macarthur Junior Rugby League, Group 6 Junior Rugby League and Group 6 Senior Rugby League all play in combined competitions from under 13 to first grade.

Aim of the new structure is to continue building the foundation for future growth in the area and pathways through to Wests Tigers in the NRL.

The club says that despite having consecutive seasons affected by Covid, Wests Tigers Macarthur and Group 6 competitions enjoyed a healthy rise in participants throughout 2021 by almost 10 percent.

Biggest improvement was in the 13 to 15-year-old range.

At a schoolboys level, Picton Magpies junior Aaron Keppie and Liverpool Catholic Club junior Luke Laulilii, pictured, will both move into the 2022 Harold Matthews team for Western Suburbs Magpies.

Both boys had strong individual seasons that culminated in them winning selection in the NSW Schoolboys merit team.

Finishing the regular season in the top four, the entirety of the Magpies’ Harold Matthews spine and lock are also all eligible for the competition again in 2022.

In more positive news, Wests Tigers said that there were more than 500 applicants for the 2022 Harold Matthews and SG Ball trials in the South West.

And to strengthen its junior development network experienced new coaches have been brought in to the development structure.

Matt Betsey (Head of Pathways), Brett Kimmorley (Pathways Coaching), David Fauonuku (JRL Coaching) and Kate Mullaly (Wellbeing) have recently joined the likes of Paul Sironen (Balmain JRL), Shannon Gallant (Wests & Group 6 JRL, pictured.) and Fita Hala (Talent ID) in delivering the next generation of Wests Tigers talent.

The club says the return of Tim Sheens from England will add further experience and knowledge to the pathways program.

The club says it is also continuing to invest in a number of talented coaches in South Western Sydney, such as Robert Mears, Joey Saukuru, Leon Bott, Joe Galuvao and Nathan Lakeman.

Wests Tigers also enjoy a strong partnership with St Gregory’s College and base the two Western Suburbs junior representative programs from the school with full access to fields, gym, recovery pools, rehabilitation and video review rooms.

As the 2022 season approaches, the club’s annual Brydens Lawyers Wests Tigers Academy continues to operate virtually with a digital execution of the weekly programs for the club’s elite juniors.

The elite group of U/17s and U/19s players from Balmain, Wests and Group 6 regions started the annual academy at the beginning of June prior to lockdown restrictions before adjusting the program to virtual platforms throughout August and September.

A select number of those players will then transition into the 2022 pre-season in November with Wests Tigers as well as their respective junior representative commitments.

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