From the Beach to the Big League
After their defeat at the hands of South Sydney this weekend, the battling Tigers have taken refuge down in the picturesque town of Kiama. Growing up on the South Coast, it has been common practice for many clubs to bring their teams down here to escape the hustle and bustle of Sydney.
For a region that is best recognised for its coastline and short stays, the South Coast has produced some of the biggest and strongest names in Rugby League.
It was only last week that we saw Adam Quinlan, the kid from Culburra, debut for the Dragons. Mitch Rein, his Kiama based team mate inked a deal for another three years whilst Shellharbour’s Adam Docker was named man of the match in Penrith’s win over last year’s premiers the Melbourne Storm.
But wait…there is more…
Ron Costello, Mick Cronin, Matt Cooper, Kane Linnett and NRL funny man Beau Ryan. Then there are the families – the Stewart Brothers Glenn and Brett, the Sims’ Ashton, Korbin and Tariq; and father/son duo Craig and Dean Young and Steve and his twin boys Josh and Brett Morris. But wait… there is still more… plenty more – Wishart, Timmins, Merrin, Hunt, Weyman, Farrell, Langlands, Boyle, Fulton, Hetherington, Creagh and the list goes on
This weekend I tuned into Steele Sports’ coverage of the NSW Cup with the Newtown Jets taking on the Wests Tigers. It was a great opportunity to not only learn about the new wave of talent lapping on the edge of the premier division, but to also appreciate the importance of these competitions and nurturing these kids, like Quinlan, a product of the Illawarra Cutters, into top grade Rugby League players.
I use the South Coast as an example, but there are several small regions and towns throughout Australia (and abroad) producing these elite athletes and it is great to see these rising stars given the support and pathways they need to forge their way into the big league.
If you get a chance this weekend, go out to the grounds and watch the undercards and take note of the standouts. It won’t be the last time you hear their name.