What rugby talent scouts will be looking for this weekend
SOUTH Burnett's budding rugby union stars have the chance to show off their skills for selectors in Cherbourg this weekend as the search for the next first nations rugby sevens talent comes to town.
With big indigenous names like national squad member Maurice Longbottom, Junior Wallabies player Tristan Reilly and Wallaroos winger Mahalia Murphy, talent scouts know there is big talent hidden in indigenous communities.
This is why Rugby Australia's High Performance team have kicked off the second leg of the #dreamBigTime tour around Australia, searching for potential support players for the national team.
Program manager Jarred Hodges said the High Performance team knew there was talent in the South Burnett after watching Murgon player Braydon Law go onto represent the Australian youth team.
"We know that in this region there is an abundance of talent and we want to provide an opportunity for them to show their wares and be identified," Hodges said.
The former Australian Men's Sevens assistance coach said the High Performance team had been linking up with Lloyd McDermott Rugby Development to interact with more than 12,000 potential players across the tour.
"It's an extensive search of talent across Australia," Hodges said.
After the tour, players will be shortlisted to the top 60 men and 60 women for a four-day camp in Sydney where their skills will be put to the test in front of a panel of national coaches.
Two squads of 20 will then be chosen to represent two first nations sevens sides to compete in domestic and international tournaments.
"We ultimately want to provide support players for the national team and onto the 2024 Olympics held in France," Hodges said.
The trials will be open to any indigenous males and females aged from 14 to 25.
"We want to provide people who've never played rugby with the opportunity to come along and try," Hodges said.
"Because we know culture is so important, this is a really culturally sensitive and supportive program for first nations people, run by first nations people."
The broad age range will cater to those with plenty of raw talent, and those looking for a different career.
"It's broad because we know there's some exceptional youngsters," Hodges said.
"You've also got the opportunity for those who might've done a sporting career in another code, this could potentially provide a second chance to rekindle their career."
Hodges said they would be looking for athletes with speed and aerobic fitness.
"A really important determinant to someone's success is character," he said.
An athlete must be able to build relationships and perform well under pressure when they make it to an elite level.
"We need people who are prepared to step out of their comfort zone, trying a new sport, new activity, and having that willingness to learn."
The program manager said many indigenous players in regional Queensland and NSW had a lack on opportunity and access to play rugby due to the popularity of rugby league in their region.
"We're providing them with choice and giving them a taste of rugby and now it's up to the individual," Hodges said.
The High Performance team plans to revisit communities like Cherbourg to continue growing the skills and knowledge of the game.
The rugby trials will be held in Cherbourg this Sunday from 10.30am to 12.30pm at Jack O'Chin Oval.