LEIGH Centurions have announced the creation of a new talent identification scheme in response to the RFL’s youth structure changes.
As the sport’s governing body lays out the new rules by which young players will be identified and trained, Centurions are hoping to be one step ahead of the competition with the introduction of a new scheme called the ‘Jets Programme’.
“It’s basically involving 15 and 16 year olds,” explained head coach Paul Rowley.
“We held a massive trial the other week that saw 70-odd players come in from the local borough.
“We’ll be inviting players from our local community clubs to come and train with us and monitor their progress in terms of identifying the talent and building up a pathway leading to a career in professional rugby.
“It goes away from any sort of scholarship, which we aren’t allowed to have by the Rugby Football League rules.”
Rowley admitted that he was unconvinced by the changes to the traditional youth training systems, which will be introduced by the RFL this year, but believes Leigh will be a guiding light for other clubs to follow as they plot their path towards a strong junior set-up.
“We do feel that there is considerable confusion amongst the RFL ranks in terms of what direction the game is going to take at youth and junior level,” said Rowley.
“They are trying to reinvent the wheel and change something that has worked for years.
“There is a natural pathway in place which is schools, community clubs , town teams, county teams, academy, ‘A’ team and first team.
“But, we’d rather be at the forefront and have the RFL use us as a shining light on how it should be.
“Our Jets programme is massive. We are really proud of it and as boss of the coaches here, what I will say is that I am very proud in how everyone has gone about their business.”
While he has one eye on the long-term future, Rowley is also busy preparing his first team squad for the more immediate future of new year’s Championship season.
“They getting big in the gym, increasing lung capacity and basically getting fitter in running,” he said.
“Within that we are working in some structures and plays, with us having new players in and practice skills both defensive and in attack.”
Following last week and the announcement of the fixtures, Leigh have brought one game forward from Sunday to Friday night.
Champions Sheffield Eagles will now visit Leigh on March 8, kick off 7.30pm.
After a weather-affected few days that saw midweek games scheduled, the Shaw Cup returns with the semi-finals to be played on Friday, kick off 7pm, and Sunday, kick off 2pm, at Twist Lane (admission £2 adult, £1 concession).
Last week Abbey Street Labour Club proved far too strong despite a valiant effort from Bowling Green, setting up the first semi final between Hilton Park and Abbey Street, with the winners of Bond Street v Boars Head and Centurion v Foundry to do battle on Sunday.