The Cumberland Throw

Identifying Junior Talent – A Look Back Exemplifies The Challenge

Every year, squads of talented young junior footballers vie for final positions in junior representative teams. Often, many of these young players have been part of junior talent squads before advancing to these teams. Some have been brought to an NRL club from country towns, interstate or New Zealand. These young blokes have all put themselves on the path to grade football and the NRL, yet the vast majority will never make it.

Why?

Naturally a numbers game applies here. This constant turn over of players through their age groups could never be accommodated in an NRL roster. Only the absolute elite carve out a first grade career, which means that large numbers of players fall out of the system at every level.

There’s also the question of players being early maturers and dominating age football through physical superiority. If there’s no superiority relating to football skills, then when the physical differences even out, these players come back to the field. This is perhaps the reason for Parramatta dominating Matts and Ball but failing to make an impact at NYC level.

You then have the question of whether the right players have been identified or whether the best development systems exist at a club. There’s been plenty of examples of Parramatta juniors getting a start at other clubs, either in grade football or junior rep teams. Penrith also suffer the same fate. NRL clubs not blessed with their own junior talent look to recruit from their rivals and they are signing players to significant contracts at younger and younger ages. The Eels will always lose players in this way.

Through Brad Arthur, Anthony Field and our Junior Football coaches and staff, the Eels have remodelled and improved our junior talent identification and player development programs. You can’t keep everyone – money talks and sometimes ridiculously so – but we can do our best to keep as many as we can and turn them into the best footballers and people that they can be.

Its not my intention to look at this subject in any depth here – our resident Junior Rep expert, Forty20, is best served for exploring this topic. Forty and I plan to get out to some of the junior rep trials this weekend and I’m sure that he’ll be casting his eye over some of the hopefuls.

I offer these few thoughts as I publish the program below from 1993. If you look through both the Parramatta and Canberra team listings, you will see very few future first graders. It’s probably only the Eels SG Ball team that could boast a couple of future NRL players in the one team. See how many you can spot – there’s one or two scattered there.

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Eels forever!

Sixties

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Parra Pete, Hay
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Parra Pete, Hay

Just goes to show…Many are called, few are chosen.
Can only see Cappy McFadden (Raiders) and Justin Morgan as players who had worthwhile careers in NRL
Bit like getting picked for the Green Berets.
“100 men we will test today, only three win the green beret”

Bubbles
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Bubbles

Robbie beckett (penrith) darren pettet (parra ) danny okeefe (souths ) all played first grade and i think chris yates may have had a run with wests

Parra Pete, Hay
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Parra Pete, Hay

True Bubbles, but a couple of games is hardly a worthwhile NRL Career is it…More a brief “flirtation”
Robbie ended up at Tumut in Group 9 where he played in a premiership under Brett Goldspink…(He had played with Brett and David Woods at Halifax in the ESL)..

Bubbles
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Bubbles

I respect anyone who plays one game of first grade because it takes a lot just to earn a shot,me i didnt make any grade

Parra Pete, Hay
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Parra Pete, Hay

Me too. Don’t get me wrong..The point I was making that only a couple went on to have “worthwhile careers in the NRL”..meaning a career that allowed them to make a living out of the sport by becoming a “full time professional”…Only Cappy and Justin Morgan would qualify as fitting that category..Both have complemented playing careers with successful terms as NRL (or EPL) careers…

Parra Pete, Hay
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Parra Pete, Hay

of course I mean COACHING careers in NRL or EPL…

Bubbles
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Bubbles

Robbie beckett had 146 games penrith 4 west tigers 30 for halifax and rep city ,all due respect mate but thats succesful to me

Bubbles
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Bubbles

Think jamie mahon scotts brother had a run or 2 parra firsts and did steve jolly have couple games balmain at halfback .??

Mitchy
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Mitchy

Sixties, what about Ted Arthur? Is he dad for Brad..?
Great read and i could read these old team lists all night….does anyone recall that young and upcoming prop, who played junior rep in this era, or maybe earlier, who passed away…? I vaguely recall it being around this time or maybe earlier..?

Curly
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Curly

Yep to first question and I think prop was McDonnell or similar in 91 SG Ball side and have a feeling he took his own life, may be wrong.

Mitchy
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Mitchy

Ok, thanks Curly. I recall him passing on and was v sad. He was also a v good player from memory.

Mitchy
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Mitchy

Ok, thanks Curly. I recall him passing on and was v sad.

Bubbles
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Bubbles

Selector in s g ball gary gallen is pauls dad and coach john lee is ex parlimentarian and now ceo easts .

Glenn
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Glenn

Daniel Anderson is the only one that went on to higher things is all I could see.