Junior pathways key to resurrecting the Devils
RUGBY LEAGUE: Gympie Devils committee member Leigh Harney says if the besieged club has any chance of resurrecting their division 1 claims they must create an attractive package for local junior players.
Speaking with The Gympie Times yesterday, Mrs Harney, who has been involved in Gympie rugby league for decades, was adamant a slip into division 2 was not a reflection on the strength of the club.
"We want to create the culture of the junior players filtering through to the seniors,” Mrs Harney said.
"If we (the Devils) are not there to help and mould these younger players, where are they going to go?”
Although a lack of player numbers continues to plague regional rugby league, Mrs Harney said the Devils were far from a club in crisis.
Several years of intelligent management have put the local side in a financial position to give back to the players, should they come back to the club.
"If our young players get a job in town and we are not there to continue with the Devils then country kids do not have many options,” Mrs Harney said.
"It is getting harder.”
The Devils started preparations for this year's campaign in mid-January and have had a consistent number of players sweat it out pre-season. As well as their division 2 side, the club intends to field an under-18s team, with several players who received A-grade exposure last year still eligible for the junior ranks.
"Ultimately our aim is to get back up to Division 1,” Mrs Harney said.
"We are a big enough community to be our own identity.”
The Devils will hold a formal sign-on tonight at the Australian Hotel from 7 pm.