Former NRL player to guide Tigers and Cubs

FORTY one talented young rugby league players launch their fledgling Greater Northern Academy careers in Tamworth in two weeks.

NSWRL welfare officers (from left)  Ben Smith, Michael Hodgson, Paul Walker, Andrew Ryan and Dennis Moran. Photo: Gareth Gardner  311015GGD05

NSWRL welfare officers (from left) Ben Smith, Michael Hodgson, Paul Walker, Andrew Ryan and Dennis Moran. Photo: Gareth Gardner 311015GGD05

They will do so with a far better “launching pad” after a more intensive induction day.

The GNA is split into Tigers and Cubs for the two age groups.

At the recent induction day at the Tamworth Sports Dome they underwent strength and fitness testing with NSWRL high performance coach Matt Parish as well as sitting in for health and welfare sessions with NSWRL welfare officers such as Ben Smith, Dennis Moran, Andrew Ryan, Michael Hodgson and Paul Walker.

Smith hails from Werris Creek and played for the Magpies as well as Gunnedah before heading to a NRL career with Parramatta.

Moran hails from Armidale and he also had a stint with the Eels before he went to England for eight years of English Super League.

He’s now back captain-coaching Parkes Spacemen in the Group 11 competition.

 Hodgson and  Ryan are also former NRL players, Ryan a  Canterbury Bulldogs backrower who also played State Of Origin.

They combined with Walker to provide the young players and  parents with as much information as possible.

“At past induction days we haven’t included the parents much,” GNA manager Scott Bone said.

“This time we included them in the welfare stuff too and got some good feedback from them as well.”

He said the strength and fitness testing  was up with some good results.

Singleton’s James Bradley was a standout in the beep test that the GNA has modified a little so players start the shuttle run on their stomachs.

“James was up in the 17 range,” he said of the tough endurance test.

“Jed Englert was a standout in the younger age group.”

The GNA will have its first on-field session at Jack Woolaston Oval on November 21/22.

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